A former John F. Kennedy Islander made a part of Pennsylvania history when the Hershey High Trojans defeated the Springfield Township High Spartans 1-0 and won the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Boys Soccer League State Championship on November 18 won.
The game went into overtime twice, with the Trojans breaking the tie with a cross and landing a rest in the open area of the Spartans’ net. Islander turned to Trojans right-back Xander Shambach said he was speechless as he and the team won the state championship for the first time in school history. “No one really knew until it actually happened,” Shambach said.
The school has since made its first consecutive district championship appearances, with Shambach’s streak the widest for any Hershey team in the States. To round out the recent state championship title, the team later celebrated with the save, which was surreal for Shambach. “We walked around the school and everyone cheered for the football team and we get all this recognition,” he recalls. “After five months of training it felt really good, consistent and it was the longest season I’ve ever played football. So it was just nice to have that last hurray at the end of the season.”
Despite playing in a more challenging field now, Shambach never misses an opportunity to show his island pride. He said he would always wear a “Run Guam” headband at any game with the Trojans.
“It’s hard to separate from Guam and its culture,” he said. “Even now that I’m here in Pennsylvania, I still feel reminded of Guam because my whole school knows me because I’m from Guam. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that connection.” Aside from representing the island on the field, Shambach can never forget the team that helped him become the athlete he is today. “Back at JFK, we always say, ‘In Lad we trust,'” he said, referring to JFK head coach Eladio Manansala.
However, he advised aspiring athletes to always start the season as if it were the beginning. He said his current coach, Andrew Maya, would remind him and his team that they haven’t won anything at the start of the season. “He just says it’s a new season, we haven’t achieved anything yet and if we want to keep the same momentum we have to not get cocky and have to stay humble and keep playing hard in every game,” he said.
Shambach is expected to graduate next spring. Whether the Run Guam headband will be worn during the graduation ceremony remains to be seen.