Evanston soccer coach Franz Calixte wasn’t sure how his Wildkits would react to low defensive pressure from a postseason opponent as the Illinois High School Association Class 3A tournament series opened Tuesday.
Notre Dame went from low pressure to almost no pressure on defense, but the veteran Kits responded by playing with patience — and pace — and erupted for a season-high eight goals in an 8-0 romp over the Dons in the Loyola Academy Regional semifinals.
Evanston, the No. 1 seed in the Glenbrook North Sectional complex, will face Loyola at 6 p.m. Friday night for the regional championship. The host Ramblers eliminated Chicago Mather 2-0 in Tuesday’s other semifinal contest.
The Wildkits improved to 18-1-3 on the season as both Erick Balthazar and Jesus Villasenor were credited with two goals and one assist apiece. Crisp passing helped the winners dominate time of possession and Notre Dame, the No. 17 seed, only put two shots on goal as ETHS keeper Adam Masters posted his 20th shutout of the season.
“During the game I told one of my teammates that I’ve never had this much time with the ball (without defensive pressure),” said Trujillo, one of nine senior starters for the Kits. “Notre Dame really played a defensive game, and that gave us all a lot of time to look and pass. We took 20 shots in the first half and that shows how we were really on the attack after we played ‘calm’ for the first 10 minutes or so.
“It’s a perfect time to be peaking as a team — and that’s what we’re doing.”
“We had patience when they continued to stay back on defense, and that was great to see,” added Calixte. “Instead of forcing things, we spread them out and took good shots. Those first three goals we scored were all great shots. We earned those, and that came as a reward for the patience we showed.
“Even though they were packed in on defense, we still passed the ball well in compact areas, on the defensive third of the field. We’re starting to play better on offense. Adam Trujillo played a fantastic game, and Josh Klier and Henry Young hit some great crosses today. With those crosses we showed another dimension of our offense.”
The Wildkits broke the contest open by scoring four goals in the first 17 minutes. Villasenor’s one touch for a score came off a service from Klier in the 13th minute, and less than 60 seconds later the Kits found the back of the net when Trujillo knocked home a loose ball.
Balthazar followed with back-to-back goals that belong on the 2015 season highlight film, the first a near bicycle kick with the senior standout’s back to the net. Balthazar then added his team-best 18th goal for a 4-0 halftime advantage.
Villasenor, Dylan TerMolen, Kyle Thompson and Matteo DiBernardo all notched second half goals to complete the rout.
Source: ETHS Sports Information