Thursday night's soccer match turned into something more than just a contest between Augusta and Circle.
Earlier in the day, Mason Hiser felt a tremendous amount of support from teammates and classmates alike as he went to his mother's funeral; Tammy Hiser lost her battle with cancer earlier this week.
Mason received hugs and cheers from teammates and the crowd after he scored three second-half goals in a spirited 8-1 victory by the Orioles.
On a night when the seniors were honored for Senior Night, they not only contributed to the win in their final home game, but they were there to share some emotional moments with Mason, as well.
"It was awesome. It was probably one of the more special moments I've ever been a part of," senior Kyler Steinkamp said.
Hiser's goals were part of a huge second half for the Orioles. Augusta was ahead of Circle 2-1 at halftime before the offense started clicking.
"The second half, that's probably the best half we've played in a long time," coach Monty Rowland said, "to come out to play like that, together like that."
The Orioles, still wearing their "One Common Goal" pink shirts in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, played a brand of team ball they've sorely missed a lot of this season. The Orioles timed their passes well, sent forwards at the right time and had great locations of their passes.
Brandon Denoncourt had a team-high five assists and kicked well from the corner to set up some goals.
"When you're distributing the ball that well and you're working that hard, great things happen," Rowland said.
Rob Winzer got the scoring started in the first half with a putback on a rebound of a Steinkamp shot that bounced off the top crossbar.
Circle's Braedon Roper scored an incredible shot on a placekick from about 25 yards out to the opposite top corner of the net. The goal tied the match 1-1 as the Thunderbirds started competing well.
Corbin Murry got a rebound of his own shot and neatly shot across the net for a goal and a 2-1 lead a few minutes before halftime.
In the second half, though, it was all Orioles.
Steinkamp had a wide open look on a breakaway and missed it. A few minutes later, though, he scored on an amazing heel shotthat got by a defender and the goalie for a 3-1 Oriole lead.
Nate Kroeker later scored on a well-timed header for a 4-1 lead. Hiser scored twice, Steinkamp launched a shot from deep for his second goal, and Hiser finished off the scoring with one more goal for the hat trick.
Rowland said that, between Senior Night and the Hisers, there were a lot of emotions that the Orioles eventually controlled. There was some bittersweetness for the seniors, too.
"It was pretty exciting. Also pretty depressing, because it is your last home game, senior year," said senior Andrew Orocio. "It's been incredible. We've got one big happy family with these guys."
Orocio, Steinkamp, Patrick White, Patrick Bruce and Jacob Lowery were the five seniors honored Thursday.
"It's been interesting, that's for sure. It's been a fun ride," Steinkamp said. "Especially with this group. There's days you love them, days you can't stand them."