On Thursday at Sartoris Field at Glendale college, the Pioneers finished blazing their trail to that title with a convincing 3-1 victory to become the undefeated Heritage League champions.
Providence (6-2-4, 4-0-4 in league) took the game over early on the strength of a natural hat trick by Sarkis Shaginian, who was dangerous every time he touched the ball.
“I promised my friends I was going to score a hat trick,” Shaginian said. “I haven’t had one all season, so I said I’m going to go out and get it.”
The senior accomplished the feat in the game’s first 30 minutes, leaving Trinity Classical Academy (3-10-1, 1-6-1) reeling. In the fourth minute, Shaginian received a pass on the right side of the field going in from freshman Sebastian Ubillus before blasting the ball along the ground and into the net for the early advantage.
Shaginian struck again in the 12th minute off an assist by senior Keerati Asawalapsakun. This one came from the right side of the field going in and once again stayed on the ground on its way into the back of the net.
Shaginian completed his first half hat trick in the 30th minute. The senior won the ball 35 yards out directly in front of the Pioneer bench when Doski called out for him to chip the ball over the head of Knight goalie Eli Skorich, who was off his line. Shaginian followed his coach’s advice and dropped a shot over Skorich’s head for the 3-0 advantage Providence would hold at halftime.
“I think, for sure, [Shaginian] is the best player in the league,” Doski said. “He’s really offensively gifted and came into his own this year.”
In the second half, Providence lacked the same crispness, and the Knights, who were limited to two shots in the first, became the clear aggressors on offense.
“The first half we knew we had to win,” said Providence senior Anto Boghokian, who anchored the defense. “The second half coming in we knew that they were going to come hard at us and we just needed to keep our posture and keep going hard at it.”
The only goal of the second half came off a Knight corner kick that found Michael Stratton in the middle. The sophomore then turned his body into the ball, redirecting it with the back of his shoulder and sending it in for a goal.
All told, in the second half, the Knights outshot the Pioneers, who were happy to play out the final 40 minutes of the Heritage League season awaiting their official coronation when the final whistle blew.
“It feels amazing,” Boghokian said. “I mean, the first time in history. I couldn’t ask for anything better. This team is awesome.”