It was a tale of not one, but two comeback stories on the same field Friday night, as high school seniors from Churchville and Webster, who battled cancer together, faced off against one another in a sectional soccer match-up.
Churchville Chili’s goalkeeper, Alex Vogelwede, missed most of his junior year on the field because of Leukemia. But, it was a broken hand that took him out of his final game a senior, before the team lost in overtime.
“Sadly, we lost it as a team, but he walked off the field with a broken hand and he can say he’s tough,” said Alex’s coach, John Mahoney. “He can say he’s a warrior, he’s a fighter. He proved it all last year, his junior year, fighting.”
Alex was fighting a battle that required chemotherapy, and eventually a bone marrow transplant. But it wasn’t a fight he fought alone.
Luke Piazza, a forward for Webster Thomas, was diagnosed with testicular cancer earlier this year. While in the hospital, it was Alex who Luke looked to for hope.
“He was diagnosed first, and I saw that he was doing ok. So it just made me believe more that I was going to be totally fine,” said Luke. “I was rooting for him the whole time of course.”
“The pain he was in was just insufferable at times,” said Mahoney, “and he still had it in him to give a little bit, you know?”
After Alex was taken out of the game Friday night, Luke scored the game-winning goal. It was his eleventh of the season.
“I wanted to prove to my friends and family that it wasn’t going to affect me, you know?” he said. “And that I was only going to come back stronger.”
Despite the two-to-one win by Webster, it was a come back for both players, and their teams.
Luke and his team get to take on McQuaid on Thursday in the AA Semi-finals.