OTTAWA — Throughout the relatively brief existence of the Sandwich soccer program, the Indians had never won a tournament of any kind since the inception of the sport at SHS back in 2010.
That changed in a big way Saturday at the annual Ottawa Invite as Sandwich upset the hosts 3-1 in the first game of the four-team round robin event, tied Coal City 0-0 in its second contest, before clinching the title with a 1-0 victory over Clifton Central to close out a most memorable and momentous day for the Indians on the pitch here at King Field.
"We showed we could beat a very good Ottawa team first thing in the morning when we stepped off the bus ready to play and then we kind of held things in line the rest of the way to make some soccer history at Sandwich," said SHS second-year coach Aaron Mlot. "This is the first tournament championship Sandwich has ever taken home ever in soccer and it's a source of pride now and a testament to the kids and how hard they've worked so far this season and prior to that in the offseason. I'm so proud of them. I can't wait to see the championship plaque in our trophy case next week."
After the opening loss to the Indians, Ottawa got right back on track with a 7-0 pasting of Clifton Central and a 3-0 blanking of Coal City to take second place with a 2-1 record. Coal City (0-1-2) finished in third while Clifton Central (0-2-1) placed fourth.
"We scored a lot of goals in the second and third games today and I wish we could've come out with more intensity in the first one versus Sandwich," said OHS veteran coach Jeff Davis. "But give credit to them for being ready to go early and a big win and the championship today."
In that very crucial opening clash between the Indians and the Pirates, Ottawa scored first as senior Tyler Robertson tallied off a feed from junior Mateo Mendez to go up 1-0. Sandwich evened the score before halftime on a penalty kick goal by junior Ethan Weeks. Then in the second stanza Indian senior Jaron Schiera was credited with a score off his throw in which caromed off two Pirate defenders and into the net for a 2-1 Sandwich lead.
"I took the throw in on the right side and I got it close in the box where it rattled around and it eventually just rolled in," Schiera said. "We had the lead and it really set the tone for us to close out the first win on a very big day for our program."
Sandwich then concluded the opener in style when senior Josh Heiman tallied off an assist by Schiera to give the Indians an early advantage in the tourney.
The second game saw Sandwich and Coal City fight to a scoreless tie before the Indians received a first-half goal in Game 3 from sophomore Alex Alfaro at the 17 minute-30 second mark off an assist from junior Steve Aguilar. The lone tally was all that was needed to defeat Clifton Central and sophomore standout goalkeeper Ryan Kohler who made an amazing 25 saves overall that kept the Comets close.
Sandwich (7-7-3) also saw excellent keeper play from senior Sead Sedjiu who recorded two shutouts on the day and fifth overall for the season that helped pace the Indians historic effort.
"I remember during the second game today looking back on my freshman year in goal when we were just getting destroyed by other teams," Sedjiu said. "Now we've come together as a program to win our first ever tournament title in school history and it's an amazing feeling just being here with my team in my senior season. That's what I'll never forget."
Ottawa (9-5) regrouped after the first game loss and received three goals and an assist from sophomore Gio Resendez, a tally and two assists from Mateo and Julio Mendez along with unassisted markers off the feet of Carter Chiaventone and Ethan Cela that easily topped Clifton Central.
Then against Coal City, the Pirates scored all of their goals in the first half as Resendez tallied off an assist by Mateo Mendez at 14:50, Robertson after a feed from Julio Mendez at 11:20, and senior Jesus Martinez after a helper from senior Marcus Gould at 1:40.