Falcons finish off fourth-straight title
Had anyone asked back when Forest Lake Christian stood at 0-4-1 after five matches this season, Thad Kopec likely wouldn’t have predicted his Falcons would win another Central Valley Christian League championship.
After all, in addition to the slow start in non-league play, the Falcons had graduated nine starters from FLC’s 2006 Division V championship soccer squad.
But anyone who has watched what Kopec and his Falcons have done in their 26 years together could have told you FLC will be in contention by season’s end.
That was certainly the case Tuesday, when the Falcons found the net early and often in a 7-1 win over Vacaville Christian to close the regular season with a fourth-straight CVCL title.
“This one is pretty satisfying,” said Kopec, who will lead the defending section Falcons back into the playoffs next week. “We are not as strong as last year, but we have enough individual players who can get us there.”
Serving as Exhibit “A” was the goal-scoring of Ben Sparling on Tuesday. The senior forward had his fourth three-goal match of the season, moving his season total to 32 goals. But he wasn’t alone. Taylor Bigelow, Austin Maynard, Caleb O’Brien and Ben Kopec each had one goal for FLC in the victory.
On the season, Maynard has 13 goals, while Bigelow and O’Brien each have scored eight goals and Matt Rose has found the net seven times.
Brandon Hall has made 97 saves in goal this season, while allowing 22 goals in 23 matches played.
“It’s just a solid program and they have been solid for years, too,” said Vacaville Christian coach Paulo Mikelionis. “There’s a reason why they’re the section champs and go to the playoffs all the time.”
Kopec considers the main reason to be the level of pride his players feel in wearing the Falcons varsity uniform.
“The moment they step onto the varsity field, a fire gets under them,” Kopec said. “And, of course, I’m pushing them and wanting them to be better.”
This group of Falcons have gotten much better as the season has progressed, Kopec said. Despite the early-season struggles – in which most of the losses came to larger schools – the team came together down the stretch.
“You know the first time we played (Sacramento) Waldorf, we won 4-1 but didn’t play well,” said Kopec. “The second time we played them it was 4-0 at the half and their coach said ‘Wow, your guys have improved’ … And the last time we beat them it was 8-0 and he said ‘Man, you guys keep getting better.’
“That’s what’s fun, to see the growth. And these guys have really grown. And that’s what it’s all about.”
To contact Sports Editor Brian Hamilton, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4240.
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The Little League District 11 postseason is off to a hot start.