CHICAGO (WLS) -- A high school in Chicago is celebrating its first state soccer championship. An all-school pep rally was held at Solorio Academy in the Gage Park neighborhood on Tuesday.
The Solorio boys' varsity soccer team is still basking in the excitement of winning their first ever state championship. But it's a victory they achieved without a key member of their squad, which makes their accomplishment bittersweet.
"We were so used to having him around, he was a big part of our lives," team captain Oscar Ramirez said.
Ramirez spoke about Christian Morales, his teammate who died in the summer of 2016 in a boating accident. The loss devastated the team.
"We didn't just see him on the field. We saw him around the school. He was like a brother to most of us," Ramirez said.
The school has paid tribute to Morales by painting a mural of him on one of the walls. The team honored his memory by having their best season ever, going on to play Gibault Catholic - a soccer powerhouse from downstate - for the Division 2A state championship. Solorio beat them decisively, 6 to 0.
"It was one of those where the score may have been what it was, but I was still looking at the clock like I don't believe it," Coach Adrian Calleros said.
And the champs were celebrated today with a special pep rally.
Still, Morales was on the minds of the team. Coach Calleros said he was one of a kind and the team has still not fully recovered from his loss.
"4.0 student, awesome kid. A kid that as a dad you would let date your daughter," Calleros said.
Solorio Academy celebrates championship year after teammate died in boating accident