No one connected to Evanston’s soccer program expected Gavin Rosengarten to be the next Adam Masters.
But the junior goalkeeper has done more than just fill in for one of the best goalies in ETHS history.
Rosengarten registered a career-high 10 saves Saturday as Evanston’s defense contained high-scoring Warren for a 3-1 nonconference victory that could have long-ranging, postseason implications. The two teams could meet in a Class 3A supersectional next month.
Warren, now 12-3-2, came into Saturday’s contest at Lazier Field averaging a whopping 4 goals per game. But except for a rebound opportunity he conceded in the game’s 52nd minute, Rosengarten tamed the Blue Devils with relative ease.
Goals by Samuel Blustein, Andrew Brown and Wes Harrell as part of a revived offense for the Wildkits helped the hosts improve to 9-1-2 on the season. It marked the second straight contest in which the Kits have netted 3 goals, following their shutout loss to Maine South earlier in the week.
“We had a couple of mistakes that led to their only goal — it was a soft goal,” said ETHS head coach Franz Calixte. “But I thought our defenders did a good job of limiting their opportunities, and Gavin did a great job in goal.
“Gavin is no Adam Masters, but I didn’t want that. They’re not the same type of player. They’re totally different players and I wouldn’t expect someone who’s a first-year player to do what Adam did. When it comes to making saves and being in the right position most of the time, Gavin has done a good job for us. Now we want him to be more assertive back there. We want him to be more vocal and be the eyes and the voice of the back line. That’s what a great goalkeeper does.”
Rosengarten came into the 2016 season knowing he had big shoes to fill — and not just because he’s about 6 inches shorter than the 6-foot-2 Masters. Now that he’s earned the starting job in the net, he’s focused on become the kind of leader the coaching staff wants for a rebuilt defense that returned only one starter in Josh Klier.
Rosengarten did play in the net as a youngster, but also played the field before become a full-time keeper as a freshman. Now, he’s Evanston’s last line of defense and for the most part has responded well to that kind of pressure.
“A game like this one today will help me stay positive and be more assertive,” said Rosengarten. “I got to practice with Adam a few times over the last couple of years and I got to watch him in the (state) playoffs. His senior year he led a really good team as a captain, and I’m hoping to do that some day. I aspire to be like him.
“This year’s different than last year, because the defense and goalkeeping were so good last year that they’d score one goal and then just focus on a clean sheet (shutouts). This year we’re a lot more offensive-minded. We don’t kick as many long balls, we pass the ball more, and I know that even though I don’t want to give up any goals, if I concede a few I know the offense can make up for it.”
Rosengarten stopped 6 shots in the second half and got some help from teammate Niko Kapetan to keep the Blue Devils off the board during that stretch. He got caught off the line and Kapetan retreated to make a kick save against Warren’s Ruben Delgadillo. Rosengarten then knocked away a rebound attempt to preserve what was a 2-0 advantage at the time.
Warren did convert a corner kick to spoil the shutout bid, but only after a diving save by Rosengarten thwarted the first shot on goal in that sequence.
“The shots were a lot more difficult (to stop) in the second half,” said the junior goalie. “My initial save was pretty good on that goal, but we didn’t clear the ball after that. I am pretty happy with the way I played today.
“The coaches are always talking to me about talking more and telling the others what’s going on, and that’s one way I can definitely improve. As a team we’re looking to peak at the end of the season. This game will help us build up to what we want to do before the playoffs start.”