The Evanston Township High School boys’ soccer team wrapped up the regular season having seen better days, but they hoped to make a run in the postseason.
In the regular season finale, the Kits lost to Lake Forest, 4-0, on Oct. 9. Regarding that game Manny Quiroz said, “I feel that we did not come out strong like we always do and [they] just took advantage of the chances they had on goal. … Knowing that [they are] a very solid team, we should have came on the field with a more ready mindset and expect the win. But as we saw, that was not the situation.”
The Wildkits finished the regular season with a record of, 5-11-2. But once Regionals begin, records are thrown out the window and anything is possible. The Kits, seeded sixth in the Maine South Sectional, took on ninth seed Maine South as part of the Evanston Regional at Lazier Field at Memorial Stadium on Oct. 19, a cool evening in Evanston.
The Kits took an early, 1-0, lead off a Jamal Banton goal with just over 20 minutes left in the first half. But the lead was short lived when Maine South tied it at, 1-1, with 17 minutes remaining, which was the score at half-time.
Maine South took a, 2-1, lead with just under 35 minutes left in the second half. But ten minutes later the Kits had a shot on goal that was deflected, but Maine South failed to clear the ball, giving Banton a wide open shot. He kicked it through the posts to tie the game at, 2-2, with 25 minutes left.
Then with 16 and a half minutes left, Maine South had a penalty shot, which the Kits stopped, but they failed to clear the ball. Maine South was able to capitalize with a goal that put them ahead, 3-2. But the Kits responded with about eight minutes left, when Jonathan Balthazar tied the game at, 3-3, off a penalty kick. From there, the teams failed to score the rest of the way, sending it into overtime.
In overtime, even though both sides had numerous chances to score the “golden goal,” neither team scored until the fourth overtime. Maine South kicked scored with about eight minutes left, giving the Hawks a, 4-3, win, ending the Kits season in a hard-fought game.
“I can honestly say we played our hearts out on the field for this game. Unfortunately we did not come out with a win that I feel we deserved. But at the end of the game we cannot blame anyone else but ourselves for not finishing our opportunities on goal,” said Quiroz, whose shot in the fourth overtime, which would have won the game, went just wide of the goal.
Despite the heartbreaking loss, the Kits are not hanging their heads. “Our whole team will have experience and the team chemistry will be great after already playing with each other for a year,” said John Pedke. “On top of that, most of the team is playing off-season club soccer, so our skill and talent will get even better.” He added, “The coaches repeatedly said that our team was the first team that was full of soccer players, not just athletes, and I definitely agree with that. Our natural talent and intelligence will help us in future seasons.”
Quiroz added, “I am sure we will be a much better, stronger and mature team next year. I am extremely satisfied with the team we have now and am not worried about what is in store for us next year, because with the experienced team that we will have next year, I know for sure we’ll go far.”