DUBLIN -- The Dublin High boys soccer team was the upstart in 2010 when it made a run to the North Coast Section Division II championship. The Gaels had never won an section title before, and weren't really considered a program to be reckoned with.
But after winning a second NCS championship in five seasons, there's no question Dublin can be talked about as being among the best programs in the East Bay.
"It was rewarding because it validated our program as a consistent presence in the high school soccer arena," Dublin coach James Fulwiler said after his team beat Hercules in a penalty kick shootout in the NCS Division II final on March 1. "Our style, our priorities, our program works. We know that the work we do with the local kids, alumni, administrators, and positive parents has built a strong soccer program.
"Its not just simply another team with a coach that just wants to win games. It has to include our alumni, our future Gaels and our community."
It is because of a strong support system that Dublin has been able to maintain its place in the East Bay soccer picture. The Gaels have been a playoff team each year since capturing the title in 2010, winning 79 matches over the last five seasons.
This season, though, might be the most memorable.
"There were a lot of favorite memories," Fulwiler said. "But my most favorite memory was looking into the stands at the NCS finals after an unsung hero, Matt Samaro, clinched the championship. I saw alumni parents, alumni, city councill members, administrators, our baseball and wrestling teams, cheerleaders, supportive parents, friends, and my family, all celebrating at the same time.
"While my team was rushing the field I looked at the stands and felt so proud to be a small part of this moment with these positive people."
Maybe the first championship came as a bit of a surprise, or even snuck up on the Gaels, but this year was different.
Dublin won 21 matches, the most in the East Bay. The Gaels lost only twice, tied for the fewest in the East Bay, and finished the season by going 10-1-1. This installment of the Dublin soccer team was more cognizant of what was happening.
The 2010 season, "was a blur because we were all new to all of this," Fulwiler said. "It happened so quick and the emotion of two consecutive NCS matches ending in penalty kicks was very emotional. We knew we were making history for our school but we didn't know what to expect so it was a little hectic.
"This year I got to stand back a little and enjoy the moments. I really got to enjoy the ride with my boys."