After winning the Mid-States Classic tournament with a 4-0 victory over Quincy Notre Dame in the championship game on Oct. 3, the Evanston Township High School boys soccer team looked to carry the momentum into the final four games of the regular season.
That they did, going 3-0-1 in the final four games. On Oct. 6, the Kits tied Glenbrook North 0-0 in the Central Suburban League crossover game, then beat Lake Forest 3-0 on Oct. 8 and Deerfield 3-0 on Oct. 10. The Kits took on Stevenson in the regular season finale as part of Senior Night at Lazier Field in Evanston and prevailed 4-0. The Kits were led by senior Erick Balthazar, who scored two goals. Seniors Jesus Villasenor and Christyan De La Cruz each scored as well to lead the offense. The victory was the Kits third straight shutout and 19th of the season, which is just three short of the school record of 22, set during the 1995 season.
Talking about his team’s performance against Stevenson, head coach Franz Calixte said, “We played very well. We kept our shape and limited their chances at our goal and at halftime we were 0-0.” The Coach added, “After halftime we came out hungry to score after missing several good chances in the first half.”
With the victory over Stevenson, the Kits finished the regular season with an overall record of 17-1-3. “The regular season was a big success,” said the Coach. “We played 21 games and shut out 19 teams, and [entering the postseason] we only allowed three goals so far.”
When asked what he expects from his team in the postseason, Coach Calixte said, “To continue to be stingy on defense. Our objective is to shut teams out in the postseason, the same as we did in the regular season.” He also said the keys to success in the postseason include “Believing in ourselves and staying with the game plan [and playing with] composure and discipline.”
The Kits entered the postseason as the No. 1 seed in the IHSA Class 3A Loyola Academy Regional as part of the 19-team Glenbrook North Sectional. This marks the third straight season the Kits have been the top seed in their Sectional. However each of those unfortunately ended with defeats in the Sectional final. But Coach Calixte is hoping for a different result this time. “Hey, the Cubs got over their hump [to get to the playoffs], [so] anything is possible,” he said.
On Oct. 20, the Kits easily beat Notre Dame, 8-0, in the Loyola Academy Regional semifinals. Erick Balthazar and Jessie Villasenor each had two goals. ETHS goalie Adam Masters shut out Notre Dame, raising his shut-outs to 20 for the season. The Wildkits improved their overall record to 18-1-3.
Next, the Wildkits take on Loyola on Oct. 23 in the Regional title game. If the Kits win the Regionals, they will open the Sectional round on Oct. 27 against the winner of the Glenbrook North Regional at GBC.
As to the team’s possible postseason opponents, the Coach said, “We will need to play well every game from here on out. The team that is peaking is the team that wins their last game.”