The Washington boys soccer team is set to play in its first-ever sanctioned state championship match on Saturday, but the Warriors’ journey began long before the season started.
Washington’s quest for a state soccer championship began moments after suffering an overtime loss in last year’s opening round.
“We talked about how we ended and we wanted a better ending, and the only way to get there is the effort,” Head Coach Dave Dancler said.
The Warriors dedicated the offseason to the weight room and held each other accountable.
“We were on each other, we made sure we did our reps and we did them well, and we wouldn’t slack off at all, and now it’s paying off. We did winter sessions indoors and we weren’t slacking off there either,” Senior Tory Shafer said.
With a roster featuring players from more than a dozen different countries, the offseason workouts helped build a bond, and united this diverse group.
“I’m so proud that we can take boys from all over the world, we put them in a Washington jersey and we represent Washington nation now,” Dancler said.
The cohesiveness of the team is a credit to the leadership shown by the Warriors’ 13 seniors.
“Without their willingness to sacrifice for each other, the younger classmen’s not going to pick it up. So there’s no selfishness among our senior group which is what we really needed for a solid baseline to build on,” Dancler said.
On Saturday, no matter the result, it will be a historic day for the Washington soccer program.
“We’re leaving everything on the field, no turning back,” Shafer said.
“If we play hard, if we play together and let the chips fall, we’re proud of what we’ll do,” Dancler said.
The Warriors will play Aberdeen Central Saturday in Rapid City. The championship match is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. central time.