T.C. Williams boys' soccer coach Martin Nickley celebrates with his players following a 2-1 overtime victory against McLean in the 6A North region quarterfinals on May 30.
Photo by Tonya Kelly
The soccer field at T.C. Williams High School isn't built on any haunted burial grounds, but ask any member of the soccer team and you'll get the same response: they were cursed.
Two years ago, after winning the Patriot District championship, the TC soccer team fell 1-0 to Langley in the Northern Region quarterfinal game.
Just one year after that game, the Titans found themselves in another 1-0 hole against Mount Vernon in the Northern Region quarterfinals. Midfielder Eryk Williamson buried a header in the back of the net with just under a minute remaining to tie the game. The Titans would fall, though, in a penalty shootout.
The quarterfinal curse was on the minds of players and fans alike as TC headed into yet another quarterfinal matchup, this time against McLean. Sophomore Howard Charles gave McLean an early lead with a goal in the 15th minute.
The Titans generated plenty of first-half scoring opportunities, but failed to capitalize. As more time passed without an equalizer, the home crowd grew more antsy. Desperate to escape the curse and keep their season alive, TC fired off shot after shot, still unable to convert.
With under five minutes remaining, Coach Martin Nickley started to yell to his players: "There's still plenty of time, boys!" hoping to keep their spirits up.
In the final minute of the game, with TC looking more desperate than ever, Williamson would again come to the rescue. With just 20 seconds left in regulation, junior Kevin Ortez found an opening and fed Williamson the ball, who found the back of the net to salvage the Titans' season.
With the game tied 1-1, the two teams continued into the first of two extra time periods. Only three minutes into the first period, Williamson took a great pass from junior Ramsey Benzina and took on three defenders to score from just inside the box.
"The quarterfinals was kind of a curse for us throughout the years. It really meant a lot to win it. For me, as a senior, it means a lot."
--- T.C. Williams senior Wilson Miezan
TC held on to win 2-1, putting away a very physical McLean opponent. When the referee blew the whistle, the home crowd erupted, knowing full well how important it was to break the curse. The win set the Titans up for a game against Battlefield High School on Tuesday, June 3 with a trip to the 6A North region championship game on the line.
"The quarterfinals was kind of a curse for us throughout the years," senior striker Wilson Miezan said. "It really meant a lot to win it. For me, as a senior, it means a lot."
Benzina, who had an assist on the day, elaborated on how much the win meant to the team.
"It's just fantastic, all the hard work is paying off," he said. "We really fought hard to come back this game. It's great to make history here; we love it."