Evanston’s senior soccer class has refused to lose for the past 4 years.
So it was no surprise when the Wildkits wrapped up one of the most successful regular seasons in program history Thursday at Lazier Field.
Goals by seniors Dylan Kimball and Matthew Webley produced a 2-0 victory over St. Ignatius, capped a perfect ending to Senior Night and a near-perfect ending to the regular season as the Kits posted a record of 15 wins, 1 loss and 2 ties overall.
Illinois High School Association regional tournament play starts Tuesday at ETHS. The Wildkits are seeded third in the Class 3A Glenbrook South Sectional tournament complex and face another difficult path to postseason success.
The last two Evanston teams to suffer just one regular season loss — in 2015 and 2016 — advanced to the super-sectional before being eliminated from postseason play. Evanston opens regional tourney play at home on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. against No. 13 seed Maine East, with the winner of that game advancing to the regional finals against either Niles West or Prospect next Saturday at 5 p.m.
Postseason play will determine just where the Class of 2020 will rank compared to past teams at ETHS in a program rich with tradition. But as head coach Franz Calixte pointed out Thursday, not many classes can match the number of wins racked up by the current core group.
“What’s different about this team? This class lost only 2 or 3 games as freshmen, went undefeated with one tie sophomore year, and they were undefeated on JV with some guys up on the varsity,” Calixte said. “That’s a core group of players that isn’t used to losing. When they walk on the field, they have that winning attitude going for them.
“They’re used to winning, and they know how to win. That kind of attitude can get you through a lot of rough spells (in the state tournament).
“This was a very good regular season for us, although it’s tough that that one loss came against New Trier. But we’ve bounced back from that and now it’s in the rear view mirror. Our goal this year is to get farther than we did in the past. We’ve been stuck at the supersectional a couple of times and now we just want to win our last game.”
Thursday’s non-conference contest served as a final tuneup for the regional. The Wildkits have won 4 games and tied once since bowing to the Trevians, and Calixte and his staff focused on tightening up their teams’ play against the Wolfpack.
“We’ve been working on clogging up the middle more and just looking to play more disciplined, and I thought we did that tonight,” said the Evanston coach. “In the playoffs, good team don’t give up many (scoring) opportunities.”
Goalies Hector Mendoza and Daniel Linder both stayed sharp by splitting the duty in the net, with each senior picking up a pair of saves.
Evanston got on the board in the first half in the 17th minute when the Ignatius defense was slow reacting to a Wildkit offensive thrust, and Kimball scored from almost point blank range.
The winners scored a clinching goal in the 71st minute when Webley found himself on the scoring end of passes from Baru Kamangila and Martin Torres-Moreno as part of a 3-on-2 break.