South Hadley’s offense will orbit around Charlie Anischik in Division 4 boys soccer state final

  • South Hadley’s Charlie Anischik set South Hadley’s single season scoring record during the MIAA Division 4 boys soccer state semifinals Tuesday at Clark Field in West Springfield. The Tigers will play for their first state title at 10:30 a.m. Saturday agaisnt Blackstone Valley Tech at Doyle Field in Leominster. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • South Hadley’s Charlie Anischik celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal in overtime against Frontier to win the Division 4 boys soccer state semifinal Tuesday in West Springfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • South Hadley’s Charlie Anischik (22) takes a leaping shot against Frontier in the first half of a game earlier this season in South Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • against Chicopee Comp in the Western Massachusetts Class B boys soccer semifinals Saturday in South Hadley. The Tigers won 2-0 to reach the final STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

Staff Writer
Published: 11/18/2022 4:21:20 PM

SOUTH HADLEY – Eddie Wykowski empathizes with opposing keepers. 

The South Hadley senior goalie stares down Charlie Anischik shots every day at practice. He doesn’t know how to stop the Tigers striker, either.

“It’s so hard. When people do save his shots, I don’t get it. It’s going one way, then it curves down and it’s going 90 miles per hour,” Wykowski said. “I’ve experienced why he has the season goal record. It’s amazing how good his shots are.”

Anischik has buried 35 goals this year, the most in a year ever at South Hadley. He’s scored in 19 games and has three hat tricks. The senior poured in five against Holyoke.

His scoring proficiency and consistency has prolonged South Hadley’s most successful season ever. The top-seeded Tigers will play for their first-ever state championship against No. 6 Blackstone Valley Tech in the MIAA Division 4 final at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Doyle Field in Leominster.

Anischik has at least one goal in every state tournament game. He knotted the state semifinal against Frontier with a penalty early in the first half.

“I’ve never had a doubt he’s going to miss a PK. Every PK I just stand there because I know it’s going in,” South Hadley senior Carlos David said.

That faith endured through the snow and into overtime. South Hadley earned a corner in the first three minutes. Who else popped up at the back post to head in an overtime winner? Anischik.

“I knew he was going to score the second goal, too,” David said. “I had no doubt he was going to win us the game.”

A decade together forged that belief. South Hadley has 14 seniors, a dozen of whom played together all the way through the town’s youth programs. Anischik was always the scorer.

“There was always something there with him,” Tigers coach Eric Castonguay said. “You could see he was going to be a successful player. With these seniors, they all elevated each other. He’s really run with that. I’m proud to have him on my team.”

Anischik would have debuted on varsity as a freshman but broke his leg during a summer game and missed the entire season. He had three goals during the abbreviated 2020 fall season before posting 12 goals last year as a junior.

“He’s always been a great player, but he hasn’t been on the stage to show everybody,” South Hadley senior Colin Quinn said. “Now he’s here and he’s taking advantage of it.”

The Tigers offense orbits around Anischik. They play physical, organized defense and pump balls toward him charging up the field. He takes on a lot of responsibility and pressure to deliver, whether that’s turning and creating his own shot or holding up play for the rest of the team to join.

“I knew going into this season that I was probably going to be one of our main guys. I wasn’t too nervous,” Anischik said. “It’s awesome, makes me have more confidence than I might otherwise have in myself. It means so much. I wouldn’t be much without them.”

Less connected teammates might chafe flowing so much through one conduit. The Tigers have defined their roles over nearly a decade.

“We all have this unspoken understanding that Charlie is the guy, let’s do something about that,” David said. “We play to his advantages, and it helps us play to ours, too.”

His demeanor helps, too. Anischik doesn’t take days off, leading by example. He’s humble and self depreciating, constantly telling his teammates that he sucks and his stats are results of his teammate feeding him the ball.

“He’s funny about it, but at the same time he stays serious,” David said. “It’s a good balance, he’s a good guy to be around.”

Anischik doesn’t score selfishly, either. He leads South Hadley with 11 assists.

“He’d be just as happy giving assists to one of his teammates. As long as the team wins, you can see that, he’d be just as happy,” Castonguay said. “Now that he got the school record, that’s his internal fight. He just won it. Now everything else is that state championship banner that these guys come back to in the building when they graduate and see ‘that’s ours.’ He’s such a dominant player you have to focus on him.”

He doesn’t dominate with pure, overpowering athleticism. His feel for the game and technical ability to execute that vision separate him.

“He’s so technically, you can tell from the little things, he’s so good. I don’t even know how to describe it,” David said. “Last year he was really good too, but the main focus wasn’t on him. Now the main focus is on him and he’s showing out. It’s incredible having a guy like that. Every time you need him to do what he’s supposed to do, he’s going to do it.”

Anischik is a program-changing player on a team with one goal left to achieve. The Tigers wouldn’t be here without him.

“We’re lucky that we had him come through here,” Castonguay said.

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.
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