The Newsome boys’ soccer team made their first-ever state championship appearance. (Photos courtesy of the Newsome boys’ soccer program.)

The Newsome High School boys’ soccer team had their best season in their school’s history, winning their district for the fourth time in six seasons, claiming the Western Conference championship and making their first-ever state championship appearance. The Wolves also won a program-record 21 games. They came up a little bit short in the state championship, losing 3-0 to East Ridge.

“The most memorable moment of this past season was the feeling when the ref blew the whistle of the state semifinal game,” said junior midfielder Reed Newman. “Making our coach proud and knowing that we were going to the state finals was a surreal feeling that I will never forget.”

The Wolves were led by 11-year head coach Allen Ware, who said that his program was the first boys’ team sport at Newsome to make a state championship appearance. They had previously made it to the regional final twice under Ware before winning their first regional title this season.

“They bonded together as a team, as a brotherhood,” said Ware. “The beginning of the season, we knew we had talent on the team, but it takes a little bit more than that throughout. We set out to gain four trophies and we got four trophies, but the last one was the runner-up, so I guess we weren’t specific enough in the four we wanted,” Ware joked. “The boys set a goal at the beginning of the year and never wavered from it.”

Ware said that his team faced a lot of adversity during the season, playing in two games where they were missing 11 and 13 players due to conflicting club tournaments, and they were still able to win those games. “No matter who was on the field, every player stepped up and performed,” he said.

The head coach is most proud of the fact that his team trailed in the district championship, first and second rounds of regionals and state semifinals and had the guts to come back and win all those games. “The character they showed was huge,” he said.

Senior striker and USF signee Stephen Gilbert had 22 goals while missing seven games with a hamstring injury. Sophomore forward Greyson Ayer scored 22 goals and junior midfielder Reed Newman was a workhorse in the middle. Four-year senior starter Kyle Smith anchored the defense. Junior Eric Ellis was in net for the Wolves.

“I thought the season was amazing,” said Gilbert. “It’s not what I expected at all. I didn’t think we were gonna make it all the way to states and end up creating Newsome history. It was such a great once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Ware and the Wolves have high hopes for next season. They will have to replace 10 seniors from this year’s team, but they won’t shy away from the expectations.

“We have to carry the torch,” said Ware. “It’s gonna be tough to get back to where we were, but the boys this year set the standard. We’ll always set our goals high.”

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Nick Nahas
Nick Nahas has written for the Osprey Observer since 2016. He has lived in the Valrico area since 2002 and has his bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. He is dedicated to covering sports in Hillsborough County at every level.