Zeischegg makes win a ‘shoe-in’ | TheUnion.com

Zeischegg makes win a ‘shoe-in’

Thad Kopec was high-fiving his assistant coaches as if his Falcons had already won.

Because with Andreas Zeischegg taking the penalty kick in the final minute to break the 1-1 tie, Kopec’s fourth section championship was in the bag.

No player in Forest Lake Christian’s history has produced more goals than Zeischegg, who ended his senior year Saturday by scoring the game-winner in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI final.

The goal was his 33rd of the season and his 76th of his career. Only Ray Spencer, who graduated in 1986, scored more. Spencer totaled 78 goals at FLC, but Zeischegg’s 35 career assists make him the school’s all-time scoring leader. Spencer left Forest Lake Christian with 27 assists.

“At first, I didn’t think that was possible at all,” Zeischegg said. “I didn’t even think I’d be able to beat my (season) record this year. But with three or four games left, I kept scoring a lot more goals.

“I didn’t think I was going to make the overall record, so that was pretty exciting.”

As a junior, Zeischegg scored 29 goals and had 14 assists. Between his freshman and sophomore years, the four-year-varsity player scored 14 goals.

And he didn’t even move to forward until half of his sophomore season had passed.

“As a freshman, he didn’t start,” Kopec said. “But he could have. He was on JV for a month, and he was scoring goals at will. He was just a natural at the beginning.

“When he was a sophomore, I started playing him at midfield. He would have had more goals in high school if he had been playing forward his freshman and sophomore year.”

The Falcons lost 4-0 to Sacramento Waldorf in the Div. V section championship when Zeischegg was a freshman, and until Saturday the closest they had come to returning was the semifinal round.

The year before Zeischegg joined the team, Forest Lake Christian beat Le Grand 2-1 in overtime for FLC’s third section crown.

“Carter (Kaminski) and I especially have been looking forward to this since our freshman year,” Zeischegg said. “We were the only freshmen on varsity. We went to the finals and got crushed by Waldorf, and the last two years we’ve been getting really close. We’ve been dying to get there.”

Zeischegg, 17, skipped eighth grade to enter high school. Because he spent two years in kindergarten, he was older than most of his classmates in grade school.

While Kopec called Zeischegg’s talent natural, he started the same place as most others in Nevada County: the Gold Country Youth Soccer League.

And back then, he was no soccer expert.

“I started playing when I was seven or eight,” Zeischegg said. “My dad just put me on a little rec team and tried to get us to run the right way.”

He stuck with Gold Country soccer until he was 13, when he was selected to join a club team with players from Folsom and Sacramento. By the time he reached high school, he came close to earning a starting position on the varsity squad.

“He was probably good enough to start,” Kopec said. “But I had seniors I wanted to give playing time.”

Zeischegg’s success in high school brought interest from colleges, including Westmont College, William Jessup University, and Cal Poly. William Jessup has already offered a partial scholarship.

But college might not yet be in the cards for Zeischegg, who wants to pursue soccer in Europe.

It could be a while before the Falcons replace Zeischegg, not to mention the other 11 seniors on the team. A player like ‘Dre – as his teammates call him – only seems to appear every couple decades.

The last time a Falcon scored more goals than Zeischegg did this year was in 1985. Spencer’s brother, Mike Spencer, scored 41 his sophomore year before leaving the area.

“He’s a very experienced player,” Kopec said of Zeischegg. “He’s played club a long time, so basically he’s almost like a coach on the field.”

But Kopec said he hasn’t started thinking about the future of the team.

He, and Zeischegg, are still in disbelief of Saturday’s finish.

“It was a miracle,” Kopec said.

When the handball was called against Lindhurst in the game’s final minute, there was no discussion about who would take the kick.

“That was perfect for me,” Zeischegg said. “The last game of my whole career, and the last couple minutes, I got to take the free kick.”


To contact Sports Writer Jeff Miller, e-mail jeffm@theunion.com or call 477-4247.

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