The members of the Evanston soccer team and coaching staff don’t enjoy playing the beautiful game in what they consider an “ugly” manner this fall.
But none of the Wildkits can complain about the results so far.
The Wildkits captured their own Evanston Invitational tournament championship for the fourth year in a row on Saturday, blanking Payton Prep 4-0 to move to 5-0-1 on the season. ETHS has reeled off five consecutive victories after an opening 2-2 tie with Conant, and all five wins have come via shutouts.
Saturday, goals from four different players — Erick Balthazar, Zane Kashner, Dylan TerMolen and Kyle Thompson — helped the Kits breeze past Payton. Sophomore Miguel Ramirez contributed 2 assists and Balthazar and Christyan De La Cruz were credited with one apiece.
The losers hardly put any pressure on the rebuilt defense and goalie Adam Masters, and the Wildkits should get a boost going forward because two players expected to be among the leading scorers, Balthazar and Jesus Villasenor, could return to the starting lineup next week.
Villasenor must first go through the concussion protocol to get clearance to rejoin the squad, and Balthazar’s minutes have been limited early in the season by head coach Franz Calixte because he missed two weeks of preseason training due to a family trip to Europe.
“It’s weird because this year we have a team that can be dominated for 60 out of 80 minutes and still come out with a win,” Calixte said. “It’s hard to play like this, so defensive-minded, because we’re not used to playing this way. But the guys are all committed to it, and right now we’re weathering storms and reaping the benefits.”
A rebuilt defense in front of Masters led by Kashner, Henry Young and Henry Honzel may not be flashy, but an emphasis on fundamental play and not taking big risks has led to three 1-0 wins to date. And Young has been a key scorer himself, with his team-high 4 goals all coming on restarts.