DOVER — Back on Sept. 7 in Georgetown, Andrew Rosenbaum scored for the Archmere soccer team in the 25th minute at Sussex Tech, a game the Auks would go on to win, 2-1. Ten weeks later, Rosenbaum and his teammates played the final game of the 2019 season, a 1-0 victory over Wilmington Friends that delivered the prize, the Division II state championship.
The win, which came on a frosty night at Dover High School, was not only the first soccer title in school history, it was the culmination of four years of work for the team’s seven seniors. They are Mikey Albero, Carter Galbus, Rishi Subbaraya, Brian Burns, Nick Friedman, Riley McAvinue and Rosenbaum.
“We knew from the beginning it was a special team, and as the wins just kept coming, we knew what our goal was,” Galbus said after the final. “We kept that in mind as we cranked the wins along, and we finally got it.”
One by one, the Auks dispatched with their opponents, all by multiple goals except for Newark Charter, which was a 1-0 win. Their lone loss came against Salesianum, the perennial powerhouse and eventual Division I state champ. Goalkeeper Niko Triantafillou led Archmere to 11 straight shutouts, although he was quick to give credit to his defense for the clean sheets.
The wins continued in the postseason for the top-seeded Auks. They defeated Saint Mark’s in the quarterfinals and came from behind to overtake Newark in the semis. Finally, an own goal in the 17th minute stood up against Friends.
Rosenbaum and his mates held the state championship trophy close after the game and were eager to get it into school on Monday.
“It’s going to mean everything,” Rosenbaum said. “The last two weeks, we’ve gotten (to school) about an hour early, just going into the gym with all the banners in there. The one thing we kept telling ourselves was, ‘Hey, there’s no soccer banner in there. There’s not even a state finalist in there.’
“We were really determined to keep winning, keep plugging away at it, just working hard. To get this championship for Archmere, the first one in its history, a win for coach (Bob) Bussiere, it’s the best feeling I’ve ever had. I’m on top of the world right now.”
Burns said seeing that banner in the coming years would remind him of the family the soccer team had become.
“We’re all family here, especially coach. I’m so glad he won this championship. Over the years, in past playoffs we came up short, so I dedicated this one to Coach Bob,” he said.
The brotherhood of the team was also on Subbaraya’s mind. The Auks lost to Friends in the semifinals last year in the semifinals, and they were determined to get there in 2019.
“It’s an incredible experience. I love my guys. We’ve been together for a long time. It was a hell of an experience and a hell of a win,” Subbaraya said.
Burns also acknowledged the support the Auks received at the final from their families and schoolmates. On a night where a movie and a cup of hot chocolate probably sounded tempting, the Archmere bandwagon showed up in Dover.
“It’s our year. We had a great showing. You can see our student section, everyone came out. It’s not easy with the school in Claymont to drive down to Dover. It’s a hike, so the fans here are amazing,” he said.