Before the team began a run that would result in the coach’s first state championship, Nickley decided to move junior All-Met Eryk Williamson from midfield to forward. Williamson responded by reaching an ethereal level of play. The junior scored 12 goals in his final six games, including the first goal Sunday in a 2-0 win over Washington-Lee in the Virginia 6A state final.
Williamson’s success seemed to have run out in the first half of the state championship game. He missed his first six shots, hitting the post and missing goals with both his head and his boots.
But Williamson found his opportunity in the 52nd minute at Robinson.
Williamson handled a pass from Abdurazak Abdulla and outran the player at his back. He took a hard diagonal line to the goal, crossed up the keeper and thrust a strike to the back of the net.
“I finally got into a position I’m used to,” Williamson said. “It just worked for me. I was a little frustrated. I mean, off the post isn’t the best thing ever, but I just had to keep my head up. I knew it was coming soon.”
Williamson booted an overtime goal in the 6A North region semifinals, scored four goals in a previous matchup with Washington-Lee to give the Titans (19-2) their first region title in 40 years and tallied a hat trick in the state semifinal.
Ashenafi Desta also scored for T.C. Williams, breaking loose and slamming home an 18-yarder in the 74th minute.
While Williamson applied pressure on the Generals (18-2-5), defenders Patrick Kelly, Lloyd Kebede and Akable Wilson Miezan shut down an offense boasting the area’s most dangerous offensive weapon: Washington-Lee sophomore Maycol Nunez, the All-Met Player of the Year who had scored 37 goals this season.
By marking Nunez for the second time in two weeks, Miezan gave his team’s prolific scorer a chance to win the game. T.C. Williams first beat Washington-Lee, 5-2, in the 6A North region final.
While posing for pictures, Miezan planted a kiss on the championship plaque. He said it tasted like gold.
Washington-Lee senior captain Michael Katz broke free in the 66th minute and unfurled a high shot deflected by Titans goalie Edgar Martinez. Katz forced two corner kicks, but the Generals could not take advantage.
Nickley celebrated the win with a box of jelly beans and visits from past pupils. The coach of the Titans for 24 years welcomed several members of his 1993 state tournament squad to the sideline.
They embraced the coach and handed him babies to kiss, and one of the coach’s moves helped make it all possible.