The sun was shining on the hottest day so far this year. Wind blew steadily across the pitch from one goal to the other, making one side of the pitch an advantage throughout the day. The five teams made their way to the pitch for their respective kick offs. ICSU advanced to play Dalton after defeating ICSP 2-1 in the opening match of the day. Dwight would go on to defeat Kent 4-2 on penalties after finishing regulation 1-1. After patiently waiting their turn, the boys were eager to make their 2017 tournament debut.
The starting eleven took the pitch with the wind at their backs. The plan was to knock out this team in the first half so that Dalton could rest the starters prior to the next match. Things looked to be going to plan as Dalton controlled possession and moved the ball around the pitch at will. Sophomore Phillip Yoon made a brilliant run down the sideline and cut inside with the ball deep inside the ICSU box. With his head up, he made a pass back to the penalty stripe where senior Bumjoon Kim was waiting patiently and all alone. With a delicate first touch, he was able to move the ball onto his left side, as he has done so many times through throughout the season. With expert precision Bumjoon drove the ball back across the net to the right post. The keeper had no chance and the Phoenix had their first lead of the Tournament. For the next 25 minutes, Dalton continued to control the possession and tempo of the match. Senior Jiwon Kang and sophomore Miguel Batanero controlled the center of the pitch, cutting off any ICSU attack before it could really get underway. The backline led by sophomore Joseph Park played superb finishing the first half with a clean sheet. However, the boys could not break the ice yet again.
In the second half, the entire bench would take the pitch to start resting their legs in case of a victory. Sophomore Takjun Oh and junior Changwhi Park, both coming off leg injuries, played excellent in relief. With 15 minutes remaining and the score still tied, Coach Musselman slowly re-entered his starters onto the pitch in hopes of one more goal to ice the game. Fortunately, a ICSU handball in the box would set up Phillip Yoon for his first goal of the tournament. A clinical finish to the bottom right corner and the second team began to be subbed onto the pitch. Although ICSU would get themselves a PK later in the match a freshman Jungmin Kim howler from the top of the box would put the game away. Although he didn’t score in this one, Miguel Batanero played through an injury to become the player of the match. “He made incredible passes and worked hard tracking back on defense,” said Coach Musselman, “sometimes the player that makes the biggest difference doesn’t finish the play but sets it up.”
And so the hour wait commenced. The boys remained light and focused throughout, eager to start the game on the right foot. As the number one in the tournament the boys elected to wear white in the final match due to the incredibly hot sun bearing down. Because Dwight only has a white uniform, they were forced to wear pink bibs in the final. 80 minutes of the season remained, would the boys finish the season with 11 straight wins? Would Dwight pull off the upset of the season and steal the Dalton glory in classic rivalry fashion?
Captain Jiwon Kang looked calm and collected as he led the team onto the field. This focus seemed contagious for the 10 who stood beside him. The boys lost the coin toss and would start against the wind. Dalton controlled the ball early and played it across the back four and even to 8th grade goalie, Kevin Bae. At the 10 minute mark Phillip Yoon broke down the left side of the pitch, dribbling past three Dwight defenders who looked like statues. Deep in the Dwight area, Phillip drove the ball past the keeper to the far bar and through the back of the net. His second goal of the tournament put the boys up early, and it appeared that this spark might spur on the boys to finish the job early. However, Dwight did not put their heads down and collapse. Instead, they continued to drive forward. Dwight is known for their speed and skill on attack, and they burned a few Dalton defenders down the right side of the pitch. Dwight made a great cross to the far post that the wind would get a hold of and take into the side netting to tie things at 1.
The boys were in for a battle. They knew that this would not be easy and they also didn’t lose heart after conceding their goal but continued to plug away. With moments left in the first half Phillip again attacked the left side of the pitch with speed and precision dribbling. Weaving through the defense, Phillip made his way into the box with nothing infront of him but the keeper. Moments before he was to strike a Dwight defender did the only thing he could do, he tackled him from behind picking up a yellow card in the process. With poise, Phillip stood over the ball at the penalty stripe. The keeper had no chance as the penalty kick made its way into the back of the net moments later.
The halftime whistle blew with the score 2-1. The second half was all Dalton. On a free kick from midfield, sophomore Joseph Park played a ball deep into the box that would hit off the crossbar. Crashing the net, in the perfect position, Bumjoon Kim took one touch before volleying the ball into the back of the net. This goal appeared to be a dagger as Dwight seemingly lost some confidence. With 7 minutes left in the second half, Mr. Musselman brought on Mohammad Alzaki to close out the game with the energy that he brings to the pitch. He did just that, driving the ball around the right flank. Playing the ball across the mouth of the ball, it only took a simple touch for senior captain Jiwon Kang to put it away for his last goal in a Dalton uniform.
Moments later, Phillip Yoon would put the icing on the cake with a nifty flick around the keeper from no man's land in front of the box. The final whistle sounded. Dalton 5, Dwight 1. Champions!
The boys rushed the field. This was what all the hard work they had put in throughout the year was for! In unbridled joy, they lifted their coach and threw him three times. Hugs, euphoria, it was all worth it! The boys finished the season with 11 wins, and not a single loss. They allowed only 8 goals all season and scored 33. They were far and away the best team in the league and will continue to be so in the future.
Two seniors will make their way across the Pacific next year to their respective colleges, leaving some big leadership shoes to fill. Senior Bumjoon Kim, who scored some meaningful goals throughout the season and in the tournament will be attending NYU. Senior Captain, Jiwon Kang, has displayed incredible leadership and work ethic throughout the season. He will make his way to UCLA, leaving Dalton better than when he found it.
The following students were named to the KAIAC All Conference team: Jiwon Kang, Bumjoon Kim, Jungmin Kim, Taeho Kim, Joseph Park, Phillip Yoon
The following students were named to the KAIAC All Tournament team: Jiwon Kang, Bumjoon Kim, Miguel Batanero, Mohammad Alzaki, Joseph Park and Phillip Yoon
Phillip Yoon would be named the offensive player of the tournament, playing head and shoulders above anyone else who took the pitch. It was an incredible season! All of the boys put in a great deal of effort to earn this victory! Go Dalton!