- Avi P
Campeones: CPS Men's Soccer Wins NCS to Cap off an Undefeated Season
Pushing up through the cobweb-coated canopies of college apps and econ readings, a wild Avi Paulson has appeared. He has been lured back to his typewriter by the distinct scent of a team making history. Faint whispers of an undefeated season have drifted toward his ears, and he has deemed it time to investigate them. His abandoned math homework observes from his desk with a furrowed brow as he scrubs the dust off his spectacles and fires up his automobile, en route to one of the great sports arenas in the nation: the Head Royce soccer pitch. For it was time. Time for the NCS finals.
The year that Bosky Frederick taught his first math class at CPS. Also the year that California’s North Coast Section began keeping records of who won their annual soccer tournament. The tournament takes place every year following the BCL East tournament, a smaller regional contest meant to determine the best team in the East Bay. Head Royce, CPS’s biggest rival, has won BCL East sixteen times and has won NCS twice. Before this year, College Prep had won neither.
November 16th, 2019.
For the first time since 1973, College Prep made it all the way to NCS finals. Prior to this appearance, they had been to the NCS tournament fifteen times and had only made it past the first round twice. On a brisk Saturday, they traveled to Danville to face the Athenian Owls, the team that had just edged them out to win BCL East a few weeks ago. With star freshmen Avi Paulson and Finnegan McKibbin sidelined, the team was outmatched and fell to a crushing 2 - 4 defeat. The loss was difficult to swallow, as it marked the end of an era for a CPS team that had been blessed with a group of incredibly talented athletes in the class of 2020. Yet it also marked the beginning of a new era. The era of the class of 2023.
November 10th, 2021.
After Covid threw a wrench in a full season of play, a strong CPS team came into the 2021 season hungry. Hungry to avenge their loss to Athenian and hungry to prove themselves to their league. However, they lost to Head Royce in the BCL East finals, and before they could even meet Athenian in NCS, they suffered a heartbreaking defeat at the hands of Calistoga. This loss stung, as Calistoga was a team that they had vastly outperformed during the regular season, and CPS had looked like the better team throughout the playoff match. The loss came in a penalty shootout, and most choose to pretend it never happened.
October 28th, 2022.
College Prep won their 15th game of the season, defeating Athenian at home to win BCL East, for the first time in recorded history. The win came on Prep’s senior night, and four years after their NCS loss, they finally got their revenge. But the job was not done. To this point, CPS had not lost a game all year, and they were rolling into NCS looking to keep that streak alive. Over the next two weeks, they enjoyed their first-round NCS bye and then took care of business against Roseland Collegiate Prep and Calistoga (sweet revenge). That brings us to today.
November 12th, 2022.
CPS came out of the gate strong, and they showed everyone why they deserved to be the one seed going into NCS. Prep possessed the ball for close to three-quarters of the first half, constantly pushing into Sonoma Academy’s box and getting shots on goal. Their break came at around the 24-minute mark when midfielder Aman Dillon dropped a beautiful ball over the heads of defenders and onto the feet of star sophomore Noah Beltran, who swiftly guided it past the goalie and into the back of the net. Just ten minutes later, right back Myles Nelson dropped another ball into the box that pinballed off the heads of Baron Boykin and Noah Beltran and flew between the posts. The crowd went wild, and chants of “Beltran” could be heard by worshippers at the Mormon temple across the street.
The rest of the half was filled with the precise touches and passing that had carried CPS to victory throughout the entire season. Oh, and at the end of the half, Sonoma did score a goal on a penalty kick, but it was really far away from all of the fans, and we can’t really be sure it happened.
Going into the second half, CPS refused to take their cleats off the gas and continued pushing the ball onto Sonoma’s side of the field. At around the 60-minute mark, Baron Boykin gave Prep an insurance goal by deking a few defenders and sinking the ball into the net for Prep’s final goal of the season. This pushed the score to 3 - 1, and yet no one was relaxed. Sonoma had a few scary breakaway scoring opportunities that they were not able to convert into goals, but their players did not give up. The game was exciting down to its conclusion, as with five minutes left our goalie Diego Young drew a yellow card on a nice save, and during stoppage time, senior Nahtan Gessesse came off the bench to enjoy the final minutes of play. But soon, the referee blew the final three blasts on her whistle, and it was all over. Every end-of-practice sprint and every long van ride home from a game in a faraway city had paid off. Some seniors had dedicated their afternoons to this team for four straight years, and they got to see that dedication turn into history.
Elation struck as the team mobbed each other and screamed. The mood remained high through all of the pictures and metals and banners and trophies, and every member of the team went home knowing that they had accomplished something that had not been done in half a century, if ever. While November 12th, 2022 was just another Saturday for most, for this team, it is a day they will never forget.
Shoutout to the guys that were with the team the whole way. Myles, Anton, Eli, Noah Oh, and Derek, this one was for you.