Sep. 14—WATERFORD — Callum McKillop, a sophomore, scored a goal just before halftime Monday afternoon, adding to the compilation of goals being totaled by The Williams School boys' soccer team in a 7-4 victory over Watkinson.
Suddenly, following McKillop's goal, which came as he beat a defender to create space for his shot, the Williams bench came unglued, players spilling part of the way onto the field and being shooed backwards by head coach Jason Lu.
Williams led 4-0 at the time and there was no question this was a celebration.
It was the first game Williams played on the school's new turf field and the first game following a year off due to COVID-19 — the Blues were allowed to compete at an intramural level only last year.
"So proud of the boys," senior captain Will Oliver said. "It's the first time I've seen us like this in years. I've been playing on this team since freshman year and this is the best I've seen from the boys, so together, great passes, great shots, great plays, the best performance I've ever seen."
"Personally it felt great because not playing a game since sophomore year, that's a long time, obviously," said Williams senior Robbie Darling, who joins Oliver and Colby Potts as the team's captains. "It's fun to play your own team in scrimmages but after awhile you miss the competition, you miss the rivalries with other teams."
Calvin Neff scored the first goal for Williams just 8 minutes in, with Darling, Oliver and McKillop scoring to make it 4-0 at halftime. Neff scored again to start the second half, beating a defender and scoring despite a bad angle from the right-hand corner of the goal.
Watkinson's Gavin Wiggin scored two straight to pull the team within 5-2 before freshman Brian Li tapped a ball in on a cross from Tony Luxton on the right side to get Williams back on the scoreboard at 6-2.
Watkinson scored twice more on goals by Connor Murphy and William Ellis to make it 6-4. Darling scored his second goal of the game on a free kick with 4:20 remaining for Williams, accounting for the final margin in the high-scoring game, in which Lu, who picked up his first career victory for the Blues, substituted liberally from the team's 23-man roster.
"They were pretty fired up today. I don't think we've ever scored seven goals," said Lu, who was in his first year as head coach last year when Williams halted athletics amid the pandemic. "It went almost too good. I just wanted no injuries and maybe a 1-0 squeak.
"For them to put four up and then our head of school (Mark Fader) came. It was an incredible start — understatement."
The Blues boast 15 upperclassmen with seven returning starters. Yet Lu said goalie Demitris Martin, who made several sliding stops, is new to the team, having previously played basketball at the school.
"He learned all about offsides, corner kicks, breakaways in about 60 minutes," Lu said of Martin. "The fact he pieced it together, he was a difference-maker."
Williams also went 0-2 in a jamboree Saturday at Bancroft in Worcester, Mass., something which worried Lu.
"That can sink your confidence," the coach said. "To get the first game that counts onto the plus side, our practice is going to go phenomenal this week, I can feel it. They're fired up. I was blown away."
Construction on the $1.5 million turf project at the Williams Athletic Complex in Quaker Hill began in July, 2020, and was scheduled to be completed by October, when the teams began practicing on it. The field was officially christened during the spring season and the school's Class of 2021 held its graduation there on June 9, but Monday marked the first official soccer game.
"It was very frustrating," Oliver said of having the turf in place but not being able to use it last year. "... As you can see, before a game we're all hype and ready to get out there. Every time we score a goal, it's all over the place. We're just really all there for each other. It feels great to be back in front of the fans on our new field."
"The boys definitely needed it. We needed some competition in our life, you know?" Potts said. "It feels good to get out here. Watching everyone play well, since I've been in the school, this is the best I've seen us play. I'd say we get pretty electric."