By MIKE MOGUIN
Union Boundary Sports Writer
CHAMPIONS: Union soccer players celebrate winning the Class 6A boys state championship while hoisting up the trophy in May.
DEAN ATCHISON for GTR Newspapers
It was a big moment on the pitch for Union, as the Redskins successfully completed an unbeaten season by winning the Class 6A boys state championship in May.
The Redskins (18-0) won the title game with a 4-0 shutout of rival Jenks at Memorial Stadium in Sand Springs. It marked Union’s first state championship in boys’ soccer since 2007, and it came on a day when the Redskins’ baseball team also won state at Johnson Stadium at Oral Roberts University.
“It is a special feeling and I can’t believe that we won it and not just how we won it,” says senior forward Ruben Carrasco. “We played in really good fashion. We played well.
“It’s a great feeling,” Carrasco says. “I’m glad baseball won it. A shout out to them. Now, it was our turn to bring one (title) to Union and that’s what we did.”
“It’s incredible,” says goalkeeper Logan Campbell. “It’s something we’ve been working on for a very long time. It was a goal of ours to keep a clean sheet all through the playoffs.”
Campbell got the shutout. It was the fourth straight for Union, which started the streak of keeping opponents scoreless in the first round of the postseason. The Redskins got wins against Bartlesville (4-0), Stillwater (3-0) and Edmond North (1-0; OT) before meeting Jenks in the final. They allowed only one goal in their final six games.
Campbell made a pair of big saves in the first half. He finished the game with only three, which means his defense kept the ball away from him most of the time.
“It makes my job so much easier whenever they can just hold the ball and keep possession,” he says. “Makes my life 100 percent easier.”
Union got goals from Carrasco, sophomore Ruben Torres and midfielder and freshman forward Rylan Franca in the first half. Senior defender Cooper McCombs added the last one in the second half.
Carrasco scored the first goal from over 10 yards from the left angle with 16:22 left before halftime.
With 4:03 remaining before the break, Torres scored on a penalty kick.
“I felt pretty confident,” Torres says. “I knew it was my time to step up. My teammates had been stepping up the whole game, so I knew it was my turn. So, I felt pretty confident. I knew everyone was confident about me finishing that PK (penalty kick).
Torres’ goal was considered to be the defining moment of the game by Union. He certainly agreed after the game.
“They kind of slowed down after that,” Torres says. “They liked to push a lot on our shoulders and we opened up the game and it started going our way.”
Franca added another goal quickly on an empty-netter with 15 seconds to go before halftime. The Trojans’ goal keeper was a few feet away, out of place.
“He kind of got a touch on it and it bounced right to me, and the defender was right in front of me, and I just tapped it in. Just a great feeling today,” Franca says.
It was also considered another key moment in the game.
“I think the key moment was when we scored the second one,” Carrasco says. “And we kept going and going and going, and we pushed them through and the third one came right before half, which gave us more confidence going into the second half.”
“I’d say the second goal definitely helped,” says coach Michael Young, who led the team to a title in his first year at the post. “I thought the third goal going in, right before the half, I think that was definitely a moment.”
With 31:29 left in the game, McCombs scored the Redskins’ last goal from short range.
While winning state was big, beating Jenks made it more special.
“Yes, it is,” Campbell says. “They were a tough team and it was a tough game. They gave a lot of pressure in the first 30 (minutes) of the first half. But we came through.”
Having a new coach had a big impact.
“I think our coach brought in a new set of discipline, which really brought the program together to play a little bit better under a new system,” Franca says. “That’s one of the reasons why we were able to bring home the trophy.”
“It is absolutely fantastic,” Young says. “The boys trusted me when I came in and listened to the things I say, and we had a great year together.”
Teamwork was the key to winning, Young says.
“Playing as a team, every single player that plays, every single person did their job, I’m really proud of them,” Young says.
“I’m speechless,” Franca says “It’s like an emotional moment for our whole team. Haven’t won it in 11 years. Just a great, great feeling.”
“It feels great to be a state champion,” Torres says.