In winning the IHSA Class 3A Loyola Academy Regional title, the Evanston Township High School boys soccer team rolled into the Sectional round needing just two more wins to capture its first Sectional championship since 2003.
On Oct. 27 in the Glenbrook North Sectional semifinals, the Wildkits took on host Glenbrook North and were able to get one step closer to a Sectional title as they beat the Spartans by a score of 2-1. In that game, senior Caleb Trautvetter, who was inserted into the starting lineup after junior Josh Klier suffered a broken nose in the Regional title game against Loyola, got possession of the ball and was able to clear it towards the net. But the ball took one hop and GBN’s goalie misplayed the ball and it ended up in the back of the net, giving the Kits a 1-0 lead midway through the first half. The Kits extended the lead to 2-0 when Christyan De La Cruz fired a pass to Jesus Villasenor and he kicked it through for a goal. The hosts responded with a goal with 12 minutes remaining in the second half to make it a 2-1 contest. But the Kits hung on for the victory. The Spartan goal was the first allowed by the Kits since a 1-0 loss to Waukegan on Sept. 24, snapping a streak of 12 straight shutouts.
With the victory, the Kits advanced to the Sectional final for the third straight year. In the last two years, Wheeling and ETHS archrival New Trier ended the Kits season, handing them one-goal losses both times.
But the third time was indeed the charm, as the No. 1 seeded Kits beat No. 6 seed Leyden by a score of 3-1 on Oct. 31, on a cold and rainy afternoon at GBN. The Kits offense consisted of goals from Jesus, along with senior Erick Balthazar and junior Dylan TerMolen. The Kits also received another strong defensive performance, allowing just one goal. With the win, the Kits improved to 21-1-3 overall to advance to the Elite Eight for the first time since 2003.
On Nov. 3, the Kits lost a heartbreaker to Libertyville, which scored in the final three minutes of play. The Kits had beaten Libertyville in the regular season, 1-0, but Libertyville turned the tables and beat the Kits, 1-0, in State tourney which was down to the final eight. Libertyville will now advance to the IHSA state semifinals. The State title game is set for Nov. 6.
The Kits finished the season with a 21-2-3 record. In their 26 games, they allowed their opponents to score only five times. With Adam Masters as goalie, the squad had 21 shutouts in the season. It was a great run.