Scheck Hillel, a Jewish school in North Miami Beach, just captured its first state championship, in any sport, when its stellar soccer team beat defending state champion Maitland Orangewood Christian in a tense and momentous 1A state title game. While Orangewood held a perfect record of 43-0 since November 2014, Hillel possessed an impressive 18-0-1 record of its own for this season. It had stood in the same position three years prior, but failed to achieve the title in a match against Tampa Prep. “This [win] is four years in the making and we made history tonight,” starting goalie Alan Landau said. “I lost here as a freshman three years ago so it’s been a long, long journey, but we worked hard, powered through everything, were united all the way, and tonight was our reward. This is history tonight! What a privilege to be a part of something so special.”
The score remained 0-0 throughout the fiercely competitive regulation-time game. Scheck won by a single goal, scored after a series of penalty kicks.
Over the course of the game the Orangewood Rams attained several scoring opportunities. Hillel head coach Ben Magidson said, “I told them at halftime that we were lucky that we weren’t down 8-0. It was all them [Orangewood] but we kind of stemmed it a little bit in the second half even though we didn’t get a lot of chances, but the kids just hung tough throughout.”
There were near-misses that could have cost Scheck the game. A.J. Moulton, playing for the Rams, sent a shot six minutes into the game that Landau scarcely touched and then bounced off the crossbar to the relief of the Scheck Hillel Lions. Again, at 24 minutes, Paul Diaz spotted an open shot from 30 yards. He catapulted the ball toward the goal, where the Lions’ solid goalie Landau reached left and made the save.
The most nail-biting moment, though, came when a throw-in by Orangewood’s Moulton landed the ball at the mouth of the goal. Hillel goalie Landau was unable to retrieve the ball. An Orangwood player was poised for the close shot. Then Scheck’s Daniel Franco flew in and pulled the ball away from the net. The score remained tied at 0.
Later, when Scheck was up 5-4 in PK’s, Orangewood’s Scott Morrell took the field with the opportunity to tie the score and push the competition on. In the net, Alan Landau dove to the right, subdued Morrell’s attempt and secured Hillel’s victory.
Netty Silberman, who scored the winning goal in overtime of the semifinal game the day before, reveled in the victory, all the while appreciating the support of the local Jewish community. “What a moment for us,” said Silberman, “It’s an honor for me and my team to be a part of the Jewish community and bring this trophy home. This belongs as much to those guys over there [pointing to the fans] as it does to us. I have to admit, today is the best day of my life. I’m so thankful to be a part of this.”