RENSSELAER | Gavin Voss hoisted the Class A Rensselaer Sectional championship trophy high above his head as his Wheeler teammates reached up to touch the hardware after Saturday's well-deserved 2-1 victory over a very good Hanover Central squad.
"One, two, three, champs," the Bearcats shouted in unison, savoring the school's first sectional title on the pitch.
"I've been waiting my whole high school career to win it," said Voss, a senior forward who scored Wheeler's first goal.
"It's been a long time waiting, and I'm just really happy to do it for my school," said senior center midfielder Tanner Planck.
Wheeler coach Ben Elvira said the plan was to get one or two touches on the ball to penetrate the Hanover defense, which was paying extra attention to the high-scoring Voss. Wheeler held a 20-8 advantage on shots.
"We knew they were going to be watching Gavin, so we had to spread the field wider and make those runs," he said.
Wheeler (15-4) was also able to control the midfield as Hanover (12-6) had to work for every possession.
"The midfield held strong, got the ball to the forwards and capitalized on the scores that we had," Voss said. "Tanner in the midfield is a big key. When Tanner is in the midfield, he controls the ball really well."
The Bearcats had to rally after Hanover's Alec Nirtaut outran the defense and found the right side of the net for a 1-0 lead in the 16th minute.
"Once we got down, we started to put it together and loosened up," Elvira said.
Wheeler kept the pressure on, and Voss scored on a header off a throw-in from Cody Thompson to tie the game at 1 in the 25th minute.
"It's started to turn the momentum to our favor after that," Planck said.
Freshman Alex Asher scored the eventual game-winner on a scramble in front of the net when Hanover goalkeeper Tyler Iliovici came out high to corral the ball. Asher knocked in the loose ball for a 2-1 lead in the 34th minute.
Hanover coach Dan Grunewald was pleased with his Wildcats despite the outcome.
"They came to play today, and they gave it everything they got," he said. "It was a good championship. Give credit to Wheeler. Their players just play hard and had a good game, and we had a good game, too."