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After posting a 14-1-5 regular season record and then winning the Class 3A Loyola Academy Regional title as the No. 1 seed, the Evanston Township High School boys soccer team looked to continue its stellar play in the Evanston Sectional.
The Wildkits took on Maine South in the first round of the Sectional on Oct. 29 at Lazier Field in Evanston beating the Hawks 2-1. In the first half, junior defenseman Bret Lowry took a pass from senior defenseman Tim Kenney and kicked it into the net in the 19th minute to give the Kits a 1-0 lead. Maine South responded with a goal five minutes later to even the score heading into the intermission.
In the second half, senior forward Gus Fleps broke the stalemate when he scored off a give-and-go from senior midfielder Aaron Stone with five minutes, 21 seconds remaining in the game. Fleps’ goal turned out to be the game-winner as the Kits hung on for the 2-1 victory.
“This is playoff soccer. It is a game of minimizing mistakes and capitalizing on mistakes,” said Head Coach Franz Calixte. “In the first half, we had a couple opportunities that we could have gone up early. Maine South will never stop, so those goals could have been huge for us.” He added, “But at the same time, even if we scored those earlier, it still would have been a fight. We have to put our chances away early in games.”
Regarding Fleps’s performance against the Hawks, Coach Calixte said, “That was actually a double give-and-go (between Stone and Fleps). You do not see it too often, but it is there. We try to use the wings and we have a wide field, and you get used to using the wings, and hopefully you are going to open up some teams to create those opportunities. [Tonight] it worked out.” The Coach added, “[Fleps] just finds a way to get into goal-scoring opportunities. He has a nose for the goal.”
With the victory, the Kits earned a trip to the Sectional final, which pleased Coach Calixte. “We are happy, man. It is win or go home, and we won, so were staying alive another day. We cannot help but be thrilled.”
When asked what the keys to success have been this season, Coach Calixte said, “The kids have a winning mentality. We have lost one game the whole year, and got several ties at the end, and I think you are seeing that now.” He added, “I think teams are content with weathering our storm, and just staying back and playing counter attack. In the playoffs, that works. Maine South had a couple fast, dangerous players up front, so they did not need to keep possession that much. So I think one of our strengths is staying composed.”
After the Kits beat the Hawks, they were set to take on the winner of New Trier and Wheeling in the Sectional final. Regarding the possible opponents, Calixte said, “[We have] never seen Wheeling. We know New Trier, but they have been scoring lately and they have been playing differently, so it will be a totally different team than we played last time [if we face New Trier]. So it will be a new game regardless.”
Wheeling’s 1-0 victory over the Trevians meant the Wildkits would take on the No. 2 seeded Wildcats in the Sectional final on Nov. 2 at Lazier Field in Evanston for a chance to play in the Class 3A Hersey Super Sectionals against Barrington.
In that game, the Kits trailed 1-0 after Wheeling scored with 12 minutes and 42 seconds remaining in the first half. From there, Wheeling extended the lead to 2-0 early in the second half. But the Kits responded with 19 minutes and 11 seconds left when Wheeling’s goalie deflected a Kits penalty shot and junior midfielder Kepler Worobec got control of the deflection and punched it in to cut the lead in half, making the score 2-1. But from there the Kits were unable to get any closer. The Wildcats held on for the 2-1 victory, ending the Kits season on a sour note.
Looking ahead to next season, the Kits will have nine seniors and starting goalie sophomore Adam Masters on the roster with hopes of returning to the Sectional final and farther in the 2014 campaign.