After coming up just short of winning the Sectional title game last season, the Evanston Township High School boys soccer team hopes to rebound from that defeat and advance to at least the Sectional final for the third straight time this season.
In order for the Kits to accomplish that goal, head coach Franz Calixte says his team is placing an emphasis on playing solid defense this season. “Our focus this year is going to be on defense,” Coach Calixte said, “The goal is to be as stingy as possible [on that end of the field] and we will get the result that we want, but it is not going to be as appealing to watch.” The Coach added, “[The key is] staying healthy, staying with the game plan and being disciplined.”
This year’s roster features 17 seniors, but only five returning players from last season, so Coach Calixte says he will be counting on returning seniors Erick Balthazar, Adam Trujillo, Christyan De La Cruz and Jesus Villasenor to carry the brunt of the load this season.
Another player the coach expects to have a big season is senior goalie Adam Masters. “[He] should be an All-State goalie this year, he is a three-year varsity starter, he came up with us during his freshmen year in the playoffs, he has a wealth of experience, he has grown and we expect him to do very well this year for us. I think he is one of the better goalies in the state.”
So even though the Kits have a plethora of seniors on the roster, the majority of them are entering their first years at the varsity level, which means the Kits will be a bit inexperienced, and according to Coach Calixte, getting the newcomers acclimated to the varsity level will be the biggest obstacle in getting back to the Sectional final game [and beyond] for the third straight season.
“[The key] is going to be our confidence. We are starting very new [as] there [are] only five returning players from last year,” the Coach explained. “So we are going to be old in terms of being senior-heavy, but the seniors that are coming are first-year varsity players. So we are going to have to get through our knocks early on then get acclimated to the varsity game and hopefully we will be clicking during the playoffs.”
But before the Kits talk playoffs, they have to get through the regular season, which began with a matchup with Conant on Aug. 25, where the Kits tied the Cougars, 2-2. From there, they take on Libertyville on Aug. 27 and then visit Warren on Aug. 29 to finish the first week of the regular season.
“Those are three very solid programs right off the bat,” said Coach Calixte regarding Conant, Libertyville and Warren. “So we are looking forward to that first week to see where we are.”
The Coach added, “[But] we are excited. We want to prove ourselves. We want to prove to ourselves that the last few years have not been a fluke and that we have learned from our past and hopefully we take that and have a nice, successful year.”