As a freshman, Sam Pelcher envisioned the moment that may have punctuated his senior season.
The Portledge boys soccer star dreamed of claiming the PSAA tournament’s Most Valuable Player award. The logic was two layers deep: earning it would prove he dominated a postseason but, more importantly, it also would likely mean his team would win a championship for the first time since 2003.
Both came true on Thursday.
Pelcher, who assisted Joaquin Gillespie’s overtime winner in the semifinals, scored three goals to lead No. 2 Portledge to a 3-1 victory over No. 4 Our Savior New American at Long Island Lutheran in the PSAA championship. Portledge will learn Saturday if its season will continue with an at-large bid to the NYSAIS tournament, assistant coach Zach Pilson said.
“This is awesome because it’s a testament to how hard I’ve been working, how much I’ve wanted this,” Pelcher said, clutching the MVP trophy. “To finally be here and get it, it’s just an awesome feeling.”
After a scoreless first half on both sides, Pelcher beat three defenders down the right side and deposited a shot into the bottom left corner in the 41st minute.
“I could tell we needed a spark, and it was the beginning of the second half,” said Pelcher, who has 23 goals this season. “I wanted to get out in front before they did. It was just a surge of energy coming up that sideline and finishing.”
A defensive miscommunication freed OSNA’s Sammy Cerron for a breakaway equalizer in the 58th minute. Nine minutes transpired before Portledge (10-4-1) found an answer, but 10 minutes after OSNA’s goal the game was effectively over.
Pelcher used his speed and long strides to score breakaway goals in the 67th and 68th minutes. For the second goal, he received Gillespie’s well-placed pass through the midfield and then tapped in a rebound after Ben Allen (six saves) made a diving stop on his first shot.
“Sam’s just amazing,” fellow senior Nick Smith said. “He’s the best soccer player I’ve ever played with. He’s unbelievable. I knew he was going to score once they tied it up. He always does. He always pulls through.”
And because Pelcher delivered, a dream came true.
“We’ve been working hard since day one,” Pelcher said, “and to finally make it to the finals for the first time and win the championship for the first time in  years is just amazing.”