The Evanston Township High School boys soccer team struggled early on in the season until they beat archrival New Trier on Sept. 20, leaving them with a 3-5-3 overall record. At that point, Head Coach Franz Calixte felt his team was playing well, despite the losing record.
“Although we are struggling to put the ball in the net, we are playing very well,” said Calixte. “We feel that we are nearing that corner and once it is turned, we will go on a long winning streak. … Once we click, we will be a force to be reckoned with.”
In the final two weeks of the regular season, the Kits were indeed a force to be reckoned with –they lost just once in the final nine regular season games to finish with an 8-6-6 record heading into the Class 3A Niles North Regionals.
Once the postseason started, the Kits, seeded number 8, were able to continue their later stellar play, beating Niles North 3-1 in the regional semifinals on Oct. 16. Sophomore Oli Jacques got the Kits’ offense going when his goal tied the game at 1-1 late in the first half. Then in the second half, seniors C.J. Rushing and Daniel Lev each scored goals. The Kits defense held the Vikings in check and held on for the victory, thus earning a trip to the regional title game against No. 1 seed Maine West on Oct. 20.
The Kits beat the Warriors 4-0, giving them their first regional championship since 2009. It was a defensive battle until late in the first half, when Ben Adrien kicked it through the net with two minutes remaining, giving the Kits a 1-0 lead. In the second half, it was all Kits. They shut out the top-seeded Warriors the rest of the way: Gus Fleps, Kevin Doyle and Cobi Ortega each scored giving the Kits more than enough to win. In addition, Lev had two assists and Aaron Stone added an assist on Ortega’s goal.
Overall, Calixte was pleased with how his team performed against Maine West. “We played a solid game,” he said. “We were disciplined and patient. In the second half, we played with more energy with the wind at our backs. Our ball possession looked much better and we never really allowed them many opportunities to be as dangerous as they were in the first half.”
The coach added, “We feel great about [winning the regional championship] and the fact that we are peaking and playing our best soccer right now makes it even more exciting.”
The Kits were scheduled to take on Lane Tech on Oct. 23 in the Class 3A New Trier Sectional semifinals. If they have won that game, they take on the winner of Maine South and Glenbrook North on Oct. 27 for the sectional title.
“We will be facing a very talented Lane Tech team [that] has only lost once this entire season. They have some very good individuals that we need to be aware of at all times,” said Calixte prior to the matchup. “But if we play as well as we have been playing as of late, we may surprise them.”