MANCHESTER-- When the Manchester Essex boys soccer team woke up on Monday morning it appeared to be a real long shot when it came to a state tournament berth.
The Hornets record stood at 4-7-2, and with four games remaining, all over the next five days, the team could not afford to lose another game. If Manchester Essex didn’t compile a 3-0-1 record after those four games its season would come to an end. To make matters worse the Hornets were playing two teams, Rockport and Ipswich, who had already beaten them earlier in the season.
Manchester Essex got the ball rolling on Monday with a 3-2 win at Rockport, after falling behind 1-0 in the first minute, and kept it going throughout the week besting Ipswich 2-0 on Tuesday and battling defending Division 3 North champion Georgetown to a 1-1 draw on Thursday.
That set the stage for Friday’s tilt with Whittier, and the Hornets finished the job with a 3-1 win improving their record to 7-7-4 on the season and officially qualifying for the Division 3 North state tournament.
“We knew we were in a pretty bad position coming into the week and we knew if we lost once we were going home,” said Hornets senior captain Liam Aldrich, who had a pair of assists in Friday’s win. “We just came into that Rockport game fired up and we kept it rolling from there. It’s a great feeling to come back and get into the postseason and we are looking forward to the next step.”
Hornets head coach Rob Bilsbury was quick to praise his teams heart and resiliency.
“This is an absolutely awesome group of guys,” Bilsbury said. “Going into the week they knew what needed to be done. The biggest thing for us I thought was that bus ride to Rockport on Monday, everybody was totally quiet and thinking about the job they had to do. Rockport is the CAL Small champs and the team wasn’t intimidated and just battled and took that into the rest of the week. It speaks to the heart of this team, they just do not give up.”