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FRIARS PROVE TOO TOUGH ON THE PITCH

Berg’s hat trick wraps up Friars undefeated IIAAG soccer season

By Eriele Salas

The Father Dueñas Friars are your 2023 IIAAG Boys Soccer League champions! 

The Friars reclaimed their throne in the championship match against the Harvest Eagles on the GW field Thursday night. Friar Levi Berg led his team with a hat trick, scoring in the 2’, 26’ and 48’ minutes. David Thompson from Harvest scored the Eagles’ lone goal. 

Levi Berg scored all three FD goals to lead the Friars 3-1 in the IIAAG Boys Soccer League championship game.

The game was highly anticipated as the teams challenged each other in the previous year, with the Eagles claiming the trophy then. “We knew there was no other choice but to win,” said Berg.

Although they didn’t repeat as champions, the Eagles did not make it easy for the Friars. 

First Half

The Friars came onto the field with more fury than the Eagles. FD’s Berg started the game off strong with a goal in the first two minutes from a kick on the left side just outside the goal box. 

The Eagles had their fair share of chances to score, but the Friars were exceptional on the defensive line. An assist from Harvest’s Micah Elwell to Thompson almost found the net, but unluckily bounced off the goal post. FD’s EJ Manibusan also had a close one, but Harvest’s goalkeeper Josiah Jones would get in between the ball and the goal. 

Not long after, Friar Berg would redeem his teammate with another goal in the 26th minute, putting FD up comfortably 2-0. 

Although the Eagles didn’t get to score any goals, midfielders Levi Buckwalter, Raito Atsut, and Thompson were instrumental in working together to drive the ball up the field. Buckwalter had a close one and Atsuta almost found the net on a free kick, but Friars goalkeeper Jacob Toves intercepted both chances. 

The FD Friars hoist the 2023 IIAAG Boys Soccer League championship trophy after beating the Harvest Eagles 3-1 Thursday night. (photo by Matt Lorenzo)

“We needed to fight more and we fought better, but overall FD had better quality in key moments…and our quality just didn’t get the other goals we needed,” said Harvest head coach Kevin Elwell.

With halftime shortly coming up, the anticipation for both teams quickly grew, and it set the field for a thrilling second half that would be packed with greater and more aggressive plays. 

Second Half

Determined to make a comeback, the Eagles started to make more strategic plays on the Friars. They managed to get the ball up the field, but were unable to score because of the Friars strong defense. 

Within the first 15 minutes of the second half, both teams managed to trade goals.

FD’s Samuel Stenson had an assist to Berg, who once again scored and got a hat trick on the Eagles. Harvest’s Thompson scored his team’s only goal not long after, giving them some sort of hope. From then on, it was a back and forth battle for whoever wanted possession over the ball more. 

The two rivals became more aggressive as the match progressed, so much that they both got yellow-carded. Harvest’s midfielders put up quite a challenge for FD’s Beau Perez and Manibusan. Meanwhile, FD defenders Donnie Moss, Nico Chargualaf and the rest of the defense kept the Eagles from scoring again. 

At one point in the game, FD’s goalkeeper left the goal to take a penalty kick for his team. After missing, he rushed back to his post managed to still defend them. Neither teams gave out; they both kept playing their very best until the final whistle. 

“Harvest put up a good fight, but we came out on top,” said Berg. 

It’s not every year that you get a chance to win a championship because there will always be another team who might want it more and be lucky enough to win.

“Opportunities come and go, and the younger players need to see that,” said coach Elwell. “We’re graduating a lot of players, so there’s an opportunity for the players to step up.”

The third place game had the St. John’s Knights beating the Notre Dame Royals.

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