Photo by Lilly Randolph

Communications senior Skyler Buitrago embraces his younger brother, band freshman Nico Buitrago, after Nico delivered a tear-jerking speech thanking his brother for their most memorable times together growing up. As Skyler and other seniors on the team prepare to graduate, a special ceremony was held at their final regular season game, where families and fellow players honored the seniors. “Playing with Nico was great,” Skyler said. “We’re at the age gap where I wasn’t in middle school with him so I only get this one year in school with him before I head out. I’m going to keep working with him and pushing him because he’s an amazing athlete, and he will see that very soon. I’m so glad that my for my last year at Dreyfoos I was able to spend the season with him by my side.”

On Wednesday, Jan. 24, the boys’ soccer team lost their last regular season game at Santaluces Community High School by a final score of 2-1. This was the final game before their upcoming district playoff matchup, which took place on Monday, Jan. 29 at Royal Palm Beach High School. Despite the loss, the atmosphere was uplifting, with the game highlighted by plays, such as digital media senior Sebastian Booth’s header on a corner kick.

“[The] game was so memorable because it was nice to see everyone gather and celebrate our departure as seniors,” Booth said.

At the end of the first half, the Jaguars led Santaluces 1-0, but when halftime began, Santaluces left the field, turning the attention to the Dreyfoos boys and commencing the bittersweet sendoff of the five seniors on the team: piano senior Joshua Boss, communications seniors Skyler Buitrago and Zachary Stoloff, and visual senior Carlos Rosales and Booth. Teammates and family members gathered as social studies teacher and boys’ soccer coach Javier Mora introduced each senior to the crowd while they were escorted by their parents across the field.

“I oversaw planning [Senior Night] with the senior parents and the athletic director Rob Long, along with the athletic director from Santaluces seeing as how it was not able to be held at our school,” Mr. Mora said. “Essentially, I was the emcee of the night and made sure that the proceedings and honoring of the players went smoothly, and that we gave them the credit that they deserved.”

Throughout the seniors’ years at Dreyfoos, their biggest fans served as the backbone of the team by providing love and support. By attending every game and planning special events, team parents were especially involved and helped to make Senior Night possible.

Senior Night was so special because the senior boys were showered with lots of attention and recognition by the people who care and love them so much,” ‘team mom’ Stephanie Stoloff said. Coach Long arranged the venue, moms and sisters made posters, Skyler’s mom made all the desserts, Carlos and Josh’s parents brought the drinks, Sebastian’s mom brought the balloons,and I organized the swag bags.”

Mr. Mora told stories of the seniors during his time as coach this past season. The stories aroused smiles and laughter amongst the crowd. In addition to Mr. Mora’s fondest moments of the seniors from his one year of coaching, the seniors’ soccer coach from their freshman year, Alonso Rodriguez, came to wish them well. Younger players who have looked up to the seniors throughout the season, including communications junior Louis Dirienzo, vocal junior Alek Kitaigorod, band freshman Nico Buitrago, visual junior Gabriel Veliz, and band junior Ryan Svopa, also spoke as part of the send-off.

“The thing I will miss most about the seniors will be their personalities and the leadership that they all bring to the team,” Dirienzo said. “It was important for me to give a speech so that we could show our appreciation as a team.”

From the personal connections being displayed on the field through intimate stories and jokes, it was apparent that the team has built extraordinary friendships over their time spent together. The seniors, having all played soccer together for seven years after attending Bak Middle School of the Arts and winning the middle school district tournament in eighth grade, had a special connection.

“The thing I will miss most about this team is just the boys on the team in general,” Rosales said. “Everybody on the team has a connection so deep that we have become more of a family. It is a blessing to call every single one of them my brothers.”

With the seniors graduating in May, the rest of the team knows that their departure will leave a hole that will be hard to fill. For the five seniors saying their farewells to high school, each of them reflect on their experience and their fond memories of being a part of such a closely knit team. Carrying into the future their memories, friendships, and lessons learned from being part of the team, the seniors will not forget the impact that Dreyfoos soccer has made on them.

“The most special aspect of being part of this team is that I get to share experiences and memories with a great group of guys,” co-captain and communications senior Zachary Stoloff said. “It’s all about creating bonds with my teammates and learning, improving, and competing with them everyday. I have learned that commitment and loyalty to a group goes a long way and that putting forth the effort gets rewarded in the long run.”