Most of the athletic teams in the Central Suburban League probably won’t keep Waukegan on their schedules now that the Bulldogs have left the CSL.
Evanston soccer coach Franz Calixte feels differently, even though the Wildkits hadn’t beaten the Bulldogs since 2012 prior to Thursday’s non-conference showdown at Lazier Field.
Evanston earned some payback for last year’s loss that cost the Kits the division championship, as junior Miguel Jimenez connected on a free kick late in the first half for the only score in a 1-0 ETHS triumph.
“I wanted to keep playing them because they don’t play like other suburban teams,” said Calixte after the Kits won their home opener and improved to 2-0 on the season. “They are a possession-type team and they play a South American style, where they make small passes and stay in a small triangle and try to break you down that way. They won’t just keep booting the ball long against you.
“They play the game at a higher level. It permits you to play and do your thing and show your technical skills, and it’s never rushed.”
Waukegan handed the Kits their only regular season defeat in 2015 and Jimenez made the difference with his second varsity goal in as many games Thursday. He also tallied in Evanston’s 3-2 season-opening win at Palatine.
“Indeed, it did feel like payback for last year,” Jimenez said. “They’re what I call a quickly unpredictable team. They’re hard to play against defensively because they really don’t follow a system.
“Scoring that goal was very exciting for me. The ball just remained on the line and I only knew it went in because the crowd had better altitude (and a better view) than I did. When they screamed, that’s when I knew it was in. The last game we played, we picked up the pace at a later time in the game. This time we were intense from the first whistle to the last.”
The visitors hit the post twice in the first half and the contest was still scoreless when a foul gave Jimenez an opportunity from 20 yards out. At first, it wasn’t clear if Jimenez’s shot had actually crossed the line, but Waukegan goalkeeper Jonathen Esquivel couldn’t prevent the score.
ETHS survived 5 corner kicks by the Bulldogs — plus three other direct kicks — and weathered a second half storm. Junior goalie Gavin Rosengarten was credited with 4 saves while posting his first varsity shutout.
“This is a great matchup for us,” Calixte added. “We’ve had trouble in the past against them because, like other high school teams, we like to really go. You have to slow down, show patience and look for the openings that don’t come often against them.
“I liked our composure tonight. We were able to get out of some sticky situations in the second half because of the play of our back row.”
Dennis Mahoney is sports information director for ETHS.