Wildcats Don Fairchester Crown for Fifth Time in Seven Years

In the days leading up to the Fairchester Athletic Association title game, the Rye Country Day boys’ soccer team learned their opponents – Stamford’s King – had talked a little trash in a Connecticut newspaper. It might have been easier, or at least more direct, for the Vikings to hand-deliver a few gallons of gasoline for their top-seeded rival’s already raging fire.

Proving that actions speak louder than words, the turbocharged Wildcats ran over King 4-0 at home November 13 to reclaim the FAA championship, their fifth in seven years. Rye Country Day simply would not be denied. They scored three times in the first half while not allowing the second-seeded Vikings a single shot on goal.

“This was my last time,” said senior co-captain Marco Prouve, who played a dominant defensive game. “I could not have asked for a better ending.”

Prouve’s fellow co-captain, senior Taylor Washington, put the Wildcats on the board in the 12th minute when he bent it like Beckham. Washington charged hard down the right side, and ripped a shot that curved its way into the top left corner of the net. The decorated player, one of the most polite young adults you’ll ever meet, celebrated in out-of-character fashion by tearing his shirt off in response to the aforementioned “smack talk”.

“It was worth the yellow card,” said Washington, with a laugh, afterwards.

Taylor Washington

Three minutes later, Washington found Prouve on a corner kick that gave RCDS a 2-0 advantage. The Wildcats (11-6-3) were on the prowl once again in the 32nd minute, as senior Sam Franklin tapped a touch pass to Alex Gendlemen, a junior, in front of King’s goal. Gendlemen punched it in and the rout was on. Washington scored again in the second half on a long pass from David Spanos.

Shayne Bingham

Rye Country Day’s fierce defense deserved as much credit for the win as their unrelenting offense. Led by Prouve, the Wildcats stymied any momentum the Vikings were lucky to generate. If it wasn’t the senior captain making the stop, it was Michael Walsh or Shayne Bingham shutting down King’s attack. Jon Karp made four saves in goal, all in the second half, before Jonathan Lassman came in to mop up. Lassman stopped four late shots.

Alex Gendlemen

After the game, the first thing both Washington and Prouve said was that they had wanted to reclaim the FAA championship for their head coach, Cristiano Pereira. Pereira’s father passed away over the summer, deeply affecting the coach. The two were very close. When told of their comments, Pereira – wearing sunglasses that perhaps hid misty eyes – looked to the horizon before speaking.

“That tells me how much they care about me and that they know what is truly important in life,” said Pereira. “I’m never going to have a group of kids like this again.

Matt Stevens and Ian Tecklin

On the pitch, Pereira was pleased his team, undefeated in league play, executed in convincing fashion despite having everything to lose as the No. 1 seed. The challenge was to avoid complacency and to take command from the opening moments. Even at halftime he urged his charges to keep attacking. “The fourth goal knocked the wind out of them,” said Pereira.

For Washington, headed to Boston University on a soccer scholarship next fall, the victory was the perfect capper for a splendid career. “It’s been an amazing four years here,” said the four-year starter. “The whole season our mission was to go out with another FAA title, and we were able to do that today. I’ll remember this for the rest of my life.”


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