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Beller, Schwab hope to recreate '17 championship magic

Tiger soccer begins quest to get back title Friday

Cameron Beller, then a sophomore, puts in the deciding penalty kick goal in the 2017 State Championship game. After the game he received a congratulatory hug from his coach.
5c75a11ba80b4Cameron Beller, then a sophomore, puts in the deciding penalty kick goal in the 2017 State Championship game. After the game he received a congratulatory hug from his coach.
Cameron Beller, then a sophomore, puts in the deciding penalty kick goal in the 2017 State Championship game. After the game he received a congratulatory hug from his coach.

Senior Cameron Beller’s most memorable soccer moment came as a sophomore.

After two overtimes, his penalty kick – the Tigers’ last – eventually led to Broken Arrow fans rushing the University of Tulsa Hurricane Soccer and Track Stadium in celebration BA’s first boys soccer state championship in six years.

“It was really amazing being the youngest on the team,” Beller said. “The feeling after the game was unexplainable. I cried. It was the best season of my life.”

Beller, his teammates and coaches are eye a return to that championship game as the 2019 soccer season kicks off at the Kirkland Activities Complex on Friday against Heritage Hall.

“The good news is both teams are very similar,” said Tiger head soccer coach Shane Schwab, comparing his 2019 group to the 2017 squad. “We have very strong leadership. Our seniors were very motivated. The seniors are a very tight group, who have experienced the thrill of winning and the pain of losing together.”

The title-winning season was Schwab’s first as Broken Arrow coach, but not the first in the Black and Gold. Schwab is an ’86 graduation for BA and the first soccer player inducted into the BA Athletic Hall of Fame.

Two years ago, Broken Arrow defeated Stillwater, 2-1, in a thrilling final. Last year, BA lost by the same score, and in overtime, to Jenks in the state quarterfinals. The Trojans lost in the finals, 4-0, to Union.

“Our mental capacity is really strong,” Schwab said. “We don’t let anything get to us. We believe we can win it all. We are like a family and each player knows one another really well.

Over the past two seasons, the Tigers have won 28 games, going 11-6 a year ago and 17-2 in 2017.

“It’s hard to describe,” Schwab said. “It was really just incredible satisfaction in that no one thought we could win the state championship, especially with it being our first year as coaches here.”

While Beller and Alex Garcia each played “pivotal roles” – with each converting on their overtime championship game penalty kick – for the Tigers during the 2017 season, Broken Arrow has three other talented seniors – Kobe Ayers, Tyler Broughton and Sebastian Hernandez – who have signed to play soccer in college.

For Schwab, the key for this group’s return to the pinnacle are “communication, speed of play, and improving on the little things.”

The varsity boys play at 8 p.m. Friday against Heritage, while the defending state champion Lady Tigers host Fayetteville at 6 p.m. at Kirkland.

Student intern Jianna Giovannetti contributed to this article.