Evanston’s soccer team opened the “second season” on Tuesday night, but senior forward Arturo Ramirez is just getting warmed up.
Ramirez scored just three minutes into the contest as the top-seeded Wildkits blanked Prospect 2-0 in their Class 3A Evanston Regional tournament opener at Lazier Field.
It was only the second goal of the season for Ramirez, who missed the first third of the season with an ankle injury and only worked his way back into the starting lineup about a month ago.
Oli Jacques added a goal in the 54th minute as Evanston improved to 14-2-4 on the season. The Kits will face the Niles North-Maine East winner on Friday at 5 p.m. after advancing to the regional championship game for the fourth straight postseason.
“Arturo was on fire for us in the summer league and he had the best tryout of anyone,” pointed out Evanston coach Franz Calixte, “but after the injury it took time for him to get his confidence and his fitness going again.
“He scored in the St. Viator tournament when he came back, and we saw that he had some potential to hit his stride. But he hadn’t scored since then. It’s a pleasure to see him back in his prime.”
Ramirez streaked down the left sideline, took a pass from Chris Vergara and banged a left-footed shot into the opposite corner of the net, beating Prospect keeper Nick Jozefowski with 37 minutes, 3 seconds left in the first half.
Ramirez also created a couple of dangerous scoring chances in the next 10 minutes following that tally, but consecutive shots by forward Erick Balthazar — one of them a point blank header — missed the net.
Evanston took advantage of the fact that the No. 16-seeded Knights were a man down to cash in for its second goal. Prospect’s Dominick Taldone was called for a rare encroachment violation when he didn’t give enough room to ETHS on a restart. And since it was Taldone’s second yellow card of the game, he was ejected and the visitors played the final 31 minutes short-handed.
Four minutes later, Balthazar knocked a corner kick to the middle of the field. Unguarded, Vegara lined a shot toward the middle of the goal and Jacques deflected it off his head for an insurance goal.
“Overall, I thought we played with good composure,” said Calixte. “We practice a lot of things, but we haven’t practiced being up two goals and also being a man up. I thought we should have been able to score more and put them to sleep. But Prospect did put pressure on us, even down a player like they were.”