Ackman's audible sends Kits to sectional title game

Audibles are called a lot in the American version of football.

But it works in the European brand of football, too.

Quinn Ackman’s audible call --- changing the designed play on a free kick --- produced the game’s only goal by the Evanston senior as the Wildkits edged rival New Trier 1-0 in the Class 3A soccer sectional tournament semifinals at Glenbrook South Tuesday night.

Evanston advanced to the sectional championship game for the 7th year in a row and will take an 18-1-2 record into the title matchup Friday at 6 p.m. Top-seeded Saint Patrick will be the opponent after improving to 23-2-3 with a 7-3 trouncing of Glenbrook North in the other semifinal contest.

Ackman capitalized on a scoring opportunity in the 58th minute and Evanston’s defense, led by a brilliant performance from goalkeeper Daniel Linder, did the rest. Linder was credited with 7 saves and ETHS defenders Nick James, Morais Lee, and Frank Berkely combined for 6 blocked shots in the last 3 minutes when New Trier (16-2-4) turned up the heat.

Put simply, Evanston just refused to lose and avenged a 4-0 regular season loss to the Trevians.

“That was a great disciplined victory,” declared Evanston head coach Franz Calixte, surrounded by well-wishers. “New Trier is an amazing offensive team, and we had to stop them. We said we’d get our chances if we just stayed disciplined and patient tonight.

“Our goalie and everyone on defense did just what they had to do. We had to defend against some very good players tonight --- and they did the job.”

A clear hand-ball violation by the New Trier defense led to the game’s only score. But Ackman still had to execute on a free kick chance from the 15 yard line, even after consulting with fellow seniors Matthew Webley and Dylan Kimball and changing the original play on the fly.

He drilled a shot into the upper right corner of the net, and that was all the Kits needed.

“The play was originally supposed to be a pass into the middle for Webley, to get him a shot, but we saw that New Trier had more guys blocking the way with their wall, so we decided to go around it,” Ackman said. “I’m just glad coach had the confidence in me to take that shot.

“Tonight we were more prepared than the first time we played New Trier. We knew if we just sat in and played disciplined defense, we could handle their (offensive) moves. Losing that game fueled the fire for us tonight. That loss was a sucker punch to the face for us and it really motivated us to prepare to beat them.”

“Quinn saw something we didn’t see, and he had the green light (to make a change) if what we call isn’t there,” Calixte added. “Call it a soccer audible. He’s been great for us all year and he’s pretty deadly from that range. That was a heckuva shot by our captain --- but he’s done it several times for us before.

“The defense really threw their bodies around there at the end, because they were playing for each other. Our motto in Swahili has been “We Are One” this year, and they all understood that there was no looking back tonight, that if you don’t block that ball, then the next guy will. That was our mentality tonight. They knew what it would take to beat a team like New Trier.”

Linder kept the Trevians off the scoreboard all night, including some remarkable stops at the beginning of each half. The senior standout denied New Trier star Aidan Crowder in the game’s 8th minute, and Crowder was perched on the goal line just 2 minutes into the second half but came away empty.

Crowder’s first shot was deflected by Linder’s foot, and on the rebound he shot wide left to keep the scoreless tie intact.

Evanston put 5 shots on goal besides the game-winner by Ackman.

“The first half was so even, but they had 3 scoring opportunities and we had none (shots on goal),” said Calixte. “We both played low pressure. In the second half, we got hungry and made New Trier make some mistakes (on defense).”

With the victory, Evanston reclaimed the fire hydrant trophy that signifies which school holds the upper hand in the rivalry. The Wildkits also moved ahead in the all-time series with 43 wins to 42 for New Trier. The two teams have tied 22 times.

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