The last chapter of the Cinderella season for Lejeune High School soccer came to a close with a 3-1 loss in the East Regional final against Voyager Academy (21-3-2), Nov. 13.
Senior Broden Wilhemsen scored his last goal of his high school career with 13:58 left in the second half on a penalty kick.
It has been 14 years since the team made an appearance in the East Regional final. Lejeune’s head soccer coach Charles Teegarden says that this is the best roster he has sported at Lejeune (12-6) in many years.
The Devil Pups’ trips to the state title games came in 1966, 1967, 2002 and 2004. The first and third appearances resulted in state titles for Lejeune.
“This year’s team is a special team and we haven’t regularly had feeder or program players,” said Teegarden. “We have players that try out and want to play where we make the best with what we have.”
A year ago in 2017, Lejeune had a 5-19 record and were 1-13 in Coastal 8 Conference play. The year before in 2016, the Devil Pups were 1-15 and 1-7 in conference play under the direction of head coach at the time George Schumacher. 2018 is a much different story for Lejeune soccer, a team that regularly loses players.
“We have been consistent throughout the year and we don’t play like other teams—we play like our team,” said Teegarden. “The things that we do are exclusive to us and we play our system of soccer that benefits our system of play and personnel. We don’t need to take shortcuts, pull, drag, complain or make comments; we just need to play soccer.”
Freshman Peter Sullivan scored two goals during the Lejeune playoff run. Soccer in October and November lit a match in Sullivan’s game that Teegarden didn’t see until recently.
“Peter has had the potential all year just as much as the other players on the team, but it didn’t show up at the start of the year,” said Teegarden. “Now that it has shown up, it is a huge benefit. We know the potential of many of these boys, but they have escalated to that level of play that I have been expecting of them.”
Senior Aaron Pierce came from Dixon High School before switching schools for his senior season.
“This season has been great and I never expected to be this far in high school,” said Pierce. “Coming from a school that has a history of being one of the best in the county (Dixon High School), I wasn’t expecting a lot after switching schools. However, when I got here at Lejeune, seeing this team, I knew we were going to go far.”
Pierce is proud of Sullivan’s playoff push and sees the potential of the freshman attacker.
“We have grown close through the year as a team here at Lejeune,” said Pierce. “Peter Sullivan has been doing well in the playoffs. If he (Sullivan) stays at Lejeune for the years to come, he will be someone this county will be talking about.”
The senior crew for the Lejeune soccer team has been the backbone of the team leading the younger players.
“The seniors are quality players and leaders telling the boys what to do or not to do,” said Teegarden. “The younger players look up to them. If you could look at them as assistant coaches, they would be the best assistant coaches I could have. They help me before and during the game; they are my voice many times on the field.”
2018 is a year that the Lejeune High School fan base will not forget for years to come.