By Ryan Kaczmarski
At the end of each summer, the Bay High School soccer alumni game is played. The game celebrates the Bay Village soccer community – calling themselves the Band of Brothers – while pitting the current varsity roster against a who’s who of Bay alumni.
This year, the game and event took on more meaning, as members of the Rockets’ 1993 state soccer championship team and coaching staff were on hand to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the school’s last boys soccer state championship.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Chip Aschenbrener, one of the 1993 team captains, said. “Twenty years; it doesn’t seem (it has been) that long. It’s like (the state championship) just happened yesterday.
“We probably have half the team back here today, so that is great. A lot of these guys have families and live out of town, so it’s crazy being back and playing on the same field (we played on).”
Aschenbrener scored 23 goals during the 1993 regular season (with seven goals in the postseason), in which the Rockets finished with a 21-1 overall record. The Rockets scored 75 goals as a team in 1993, while they only gave up 10 goals the entire season.
The team was led by longtime head coach Sam Massad, who was the inaugural boys soccer coach at Bay High School and who coached the Rockets for 26 years, winning three state titles (1972, 1991 and 1993).
“It’s unbelievable that most of these guys are still in good shape,” Massad said of his former players. “They are proud of playing this game and are proud of Bay High School, and that’s why they come back here (to play the alumni game).
“This (1993) team, we used to call the ‘Big Dogs,’ because I couldn’t find a better name for them,” Massad continued. “They were fast, and the opponents looked small standing next to them. Our teams also had endurance. Endurance is one of the main things in this game. So, usually we were called a second-half team. This team was intelligent, too. They knew when to switch formation, and when to back up each other. They know the game as much as I used to know it when I was a player. I didn’t have to coach them. When they went on the field, that’s it, they were on their own.”
The alumni players were extremely happy to see the former coaches (Massad, John Skinner and Bill Egan) make the trip to Memorial Stadium for the celebration.
“This is special,” Jay Gantt said. “I haven’t seen (the coaches) forever. We wouldn’t be here without them.”
According to Skinner, the members of the 1993 team were special both on and off the field.
“Not only were they great soccer players, they were a great group of kids in general,” he said. “They played hard and were a good team, so they deserved to win.”
There were 28 total players who returned for the game, ranging from recent 2013 graduates, all the way back to the class of 1977. The game ended in a 2-2 tie, but both the alumni and current varsity players had fun while playing a competitive game.
Former Bay star and current Major League Soccer (Columbus Crew) player Kyle Hyland was on hand for the festivities, but he was not allowed to play in the game due to his professional contract.
“I’ve honestly been looking forward to this day for a long time,” Hyland said. “I haven’t been to an alumni game for four years, because of the preseason college games (at IUPUI). I’m not allowed to play in the game, not that Bobby Dougherty (current Bay boys head varsity coach) would let me play anyway. I can’t wait until I can play in this game.”
Dougherty could not have been more proud of his current players, and all of the former players – whether he coached them or not.
“This is our homecoming,” he said. “Football has theirs, with the band and the parade, but ours is before the season starts, and we have decades of players coming back.
“(The alumni players) all want to come back and see how the varsity team is looking, wish everyone good luck and give it one last run. It means a lot to everyone involved.”
You can see highlights of the 1993 state championship game on YouTube by typing the key words, “1993 Bay High Soccer.”