Boys’ soccer: Adjustments help T.C. Williams win Virginia 6A championship, finish No. 1

On May 13, just 12 days after it had suffered a humbling 3-1 loss against West Springfield, T.C. Williams hosted undefeated Washington-Lee on a warm afternoon in Alexandria. It was a disaster for the Titans. The Generals’ won 4-0 behind three goals from sophomore Maycol Nunez, and afterward the Titans players watched their senior day spoiled as their opponent exited the stadium in celebration.

“We knew we just had to back into the rhythm of working hard and getting the results that we wanted,” T.C. Williams junior Eryk Williamson said.

It was a pivotal moment for T.C. Williams, and probably the best thing that could’ve happened to the team. The Titans didn’t lose a match the rest of the season. They ripped of eight straight postseason wins, some holding a flair for the dramatic (two were overtime wins) and others dominant (three shutouts), and T.C. Williams recorded three or more goals in five games during that stretch.

They exacted revenge on their new rival when it mattered most. T.C. (18-2) beat Washington-Lee 5-2 to win its first region title in 40 years, then followed up with a 2-0 win over the Generals in Sunday’s Virginia 6A state championship, the school’s first boys’ soccer title.

It was still settling in for Williamson and his teammates at school on Monday afternoon, where they were hounded by adoring teachers and even received visits from members of the 1993 T.C. Williams squad, Williamson said.

The Titans came out strong in the second half, scoring the only two goals of the matchup and claiming their first ever boys’ soccer state title. (Andrew Kloc for Synthesis/Koubaroulis LLC./The Washington Post)

The most successful season in school history had a blistering start, as T.C. Williams won its first eight matches. And even as it encountered adversity in the middle of the season, it was able to make adjustments at all the right times. Williamson, who finished with 22 goals, was moved from the midfield to striker and became one of the most productive offensive players in the last six weeks of the season. Senior striker Akable Miezan (13 goals) was moved to defense to mark the explosive Nunez in the postseason, and allowed no goals against the All-Met player of the Year in two matches. It was an example of how the back line played all season; it forced six clean sheets and allowed three or more goals just twice.

“I think they were amazing moves,” Williamson said of the adjustments made by Titans’ Coach Mary Nickley, particularly moving Miezan to defense. “It was obviously one of the top moves I’ve ever seen a coach make.”

Graduation will hit the roster hard, but T.C. will return several key players next season, including juniors Abdurazak Abdulla and Ramsey Benzina. Williamson will also be back for his senior season, and hopes to carry his late-season momentum into next spring. He finished with 12 postseason goals, and scored in seven of his last eight matches – which included several notable performances. He scored in the final seconds to send the region quarterfinal into overtime against McLean, then scored the game-winner in the extra frame. He had four goals in the region title match against Washington-Lee, then followed up with a hat trick in the state semifinal against Hylton.

“Once the postseason hit us, we were all working twice as hard knowing that the final days of the season, they meant the most,” Williamson said.

The Post Top 10

Loudoun County’s James Moreno finished with 31 goals, including the game-winner with abut five seconds remaining in the Virginia 4A state title match against Midlothian to give the Raiders their first state championship. . . . 5A state champion Broad Run finished the season with seven straight wins and scored three or more goals in all but two games in that stretch, including a 3-2 win over Albemarle in the title game. . . . Three different players finished with over 30 goals for George Mason, as Paul Darmstadter (36 goals), Elliott Mercado (36 goals) and Raheem Lawal (32 goals) helped the Mustangs win their second straight 2A state title.

1. T.C. Williams (19-2) LW: 5

2. Loudoun County (21-1-1) LW: NR

3. Broad Run (21-1-1) LW: 8

4. Washington-Lee (18-2-3) LW: 9

5. Hylton (13-4-1) LW: NR

6. Battlefield (13-4-1) LW: NR

7. West Potomac (9-6-2) LW: NR

8. Centreville (7-6-2) LW: NR

9. George Mason (22-1) LW: NR

10. Oakton (11-3-2) LW: 2

Also considered: McLean (9-6-4), Tuscarora (14-5)

Roman Stubbs covers the University of Maryland athletics for The Washington Post.
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