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Franz Calixte expects the current members of the Evanston soccer team to post one of the best GPAs – that’s grade-point averages – in program history this fall.
Some quick thinking by a couple of seniors certainly went a long way to preserving the Wildkits’ unbeaten record Tuesday night against Glenbrook South in the Central Suburban League division opener at Lazier Field.
Alert play by Sebastian Leon and Alfredo Milan in the opening minutes of the second half helped Evanston tie the score and the Wildkits settled for a 1-1 draw with Glenbrook South while improving to 6-0-2 on the season.
Evanston faces archrival New Trier in a rare Saturday game with a possible league championship on the line. Both schools will take unbeaten overall records into Saturday’s noon showdown at ETHS. New Trier defeated Niles West 4-0 Tuesday to move to 7-0-1 on the year.
Tuesday’s rare come-from-behind effort – ETHS has only trailed in one other game this year – was decided when Milan banged home a rebound shot by Leon on a direct kick just 90 seconds into the second half. It was the second goal of the season for Milan, and Evanston couldn’t find the back of the net again against Glenbrook South goalie Declan Cloutier (7 saves).
When Evanston’s Sam Darer was fouled inside the 20-yard line just after the halftime intermission, Leon lined up and quickly (and legally) took a shot before the Glenbrook South defense was set.
Cloutier wasn’t caught napping, but his teammates were. The keeper knocked down Leon’s laser shot, and Milan raced in unmarked from the right side to score the equalizer.
“That was a great heads-up play by Sebastian,” said Calixte, who gives his players the “green light” to call for a quick attack. “He read the [defense], pounced on it, and Alfredo was there to finish it. That was really an awesome play.
“If the quick shot is there, we want them to take it. We talk about that a lot in practice, about reading the defense to see what’s there.”
“I was just trying to go in there focused on shooting. I knew [the goalie] let the ball go and that I had to strike it hard,” said Milan. “I just ran past the defense and shot it. Sebastian gave me a signal, and on that play you always know you have to go for the rebound.
“I think this was a ‘good’ tie for us. We needed to play with more enthusiasm in the second half and I think we did. We started much stronger in the second half, and we finished stronger too.”
‘Really shows the heart that this team has’
Evanston fell behind in the 38th minute when South senior Zarko Pavlovic produced a goal that would have qualified for the highlight show on ESPN. His bicycle kick, with his back to the goal, zipped past ETHS keeper Henry Sternstein to put the Titans on top 1-0.
Sternstein otherwise kept the visitors off the scoreboard with a total of five saves, including a catch of a booming 50-yard free kick by Pavlovic after a yellow card was issued to the ETHS defense prior to Pavlovic’s goal.
The hosts almost pulled out a win in the final seconds when Darer was fouled at the 20 with 38 seconds left on the clock. This time Leon’s direct boot glanced off a defender, then was deflected high past the crossbar by keeper Cloutier to keep the score even.
“We won the second half tonight, but I’ll take [a tie],” Calixte said. “I think we had better chances to score than GBS. Being down at halftime and able to claw back into and get a goal like that really shows the heart that this team has.”