Boys soccer: Hersey student Chmielewski honors soldiers before Huskies win game

 
By Bill Esbrook
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 9/2/2021 9:39 PM

There are signs affixed to the fencing that surround Roland Goins Stadium at Hersey that read: Tradition, Sacrifice, Courage and Dedication.

They're obviously meant to support the athletic teams that play there, but those words took on a whole new meaning after the stirring tribute that was given by Hersey student Gillian Chmielewski prior to Thursday night's Huskies-St. Viator boys soccer match.

 

Chmielewski spoke about how she was dedicating the Star Spangled Banner that she was about to sing to the recent United States Military loss of life in Afghanistan.

She then delivered a rousing, powerful, emotional version of the national anthem that was received by the fans in the stands and the players and coaches on the field with great appreciation.

"My whole family has always been big supporters of the military," said Chmielewski, "and tonight I wanted to dedicate our nation's anthem to (those soldiers that gave the ultimate sacrifice)."

On the pitch, once the game began, it was all business for the Huskies and Lions, and all great defense and great goalkeeping as well.

The teams battled through 75 minutes of back-and-forth scoreless play until Hersey finally broke through with 2 goals in the final 4:16 of the game to claim a 2-0 win.

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Senior Andrew Hamilton put the Huskies up in the 76th minute, then junior Charlie Sieg scored as the horn sounded to account for the final score.

"Viator played a great game tonight," said Hersey coach Michael Rusniak. "Just physical and strong defensively. This was a tight match that could have gone in any direction at any time.

"When you're neighbors and you're down the street from each other it's a little more of a rivalry and we haven't had the chance to play Viator in the last couple of years. We were looking to have an opportunity to play them and my hat is off to them. They're great competitors."

Both goalkeepers, Joe Lenz of Hersey and Geovanny Andino from Viator, were outstanding.

"At the beginning of the season we set ourselves up for some big games to see what we needed to work on," said Viator coach Byron DeLeon, "and tonight was a great match, a great physical battle.

"We focused on what we needed to, and sometimes things work out and sometimes they don't. But I'm proud of the guys and the effort they put in tonight."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Rowan McDonnell of Viator was solid on the back line early on to turn away a couple of Hersey attacks, and the best chance of the first half came from Hamilton of the Huskies, whose shot in the box in the 35th minute just chipped over the crossbar.

Hersey defender Charlie Shiffman turned away a great Viator chance midway through the second half, but most of the possession in the final 40 minutes was for the Hersey side.

Hamilton finally broke through with a great shot from the right flank late to break the scoreless tie, then Seig raced past the Viator defense with seconds remaining to dent the back of the net and put the icing on the cake.

After the match, Rusniak lauded the pregame dedication by Chmielewski.

"She's sung the anthem a couple times for us before and she does a tremendous job," said Rusniak. "We appreciate having a live national anthem, the guys look forward to it as part of the whole experience under the lights and tonight it was just phenomenal."

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