WORCESTER — For the the Winchester boys’ soccer team, it was the culmination of a long, successful season that bled into overtime of the state championship. For Aras Kaya, it was the validation of years of steadfast work in and out of practice, striving to get to this moment at the pinnacle of high school athletics.
In an entertaining MIAA Division 2 boys’ soccer final Saturday morning at Worcester State, Winchester pulled out a pulsating 5-4 overtime victory over Milford on a goal by Kaya off a restart kick in the seventh minute of the first OT period. It was the program’s first title since 1987.
“I worked so hard for this moment,” Kaya, an 18-year-old senior forward said through tears after the game. “I didn’t even make the tryouts for two years. My junior year I had to really, really work hard to play. My junior year summer I just grinded it out and I just worked so hard to get that starting spot.
“And I finally did. I can’t be more proud of this team.”
Winchester coach Vin Musto said Kaya earned every bit of his achievement.
“He’s someone who just puts hours and hours into his craft outside of the team,” Musto said. “He’s an absolute sponge of information. He made adjustments and found himself in the right place and it was a great finish. I couldn’t be more proud.”
Kaya finished off what was a balanced attack, with three players connecting for Winchester (15-3-5). Junior forward Diego Diaz scored twice, and senior midfielder William Hofheinz tallied two goals and an assist.
“From day one we said this is a complete team and we’re never going to lean on one player,” Musto said. “It was total 80 minutes that everybody contributed. They could’ve crumbled and they stayed tough.”
The game was certainly a mental test for both sides. Milford led two times and neither team ever led by more than one. The game featured nine goals, and the Sachems had to rebound from Milford tying the game with less than seven minutes left in regulation.
Milford (18-1-2) received two goals from senior Pedro Araujo, one from junior Joao Pedro Da Silva, and the late tying goal from senior Carlos Terrinha.
“This was the craziest game I’ve been a part of,” Kaya said.
Charlie Wolfson can be reached at email@example.com.