Sometimes it’s difficult for Colin Thompson to force himself to stay patient.
The Evanston soccer star is usually in attack mode from the moment he steps on the field, and the result doesn’t always pay off for the Wildkits.
An under control Thompson is one of the most dangerous players in the state of Illinois, and he proved that again Thursday night at Lazier Field, leading the Wildkits to a come-from-behind 5-2 triumph over Maine West in a Central Suburban League crossover game.
With ETHS trailing 2-1 at halftime, Thompson took over the game. The senior forward notched a pair of assists — boosting his team-leading total to 14 on the year — and also created another scoring opportunity converted by the hosts , who scored three times in the first 21 minutes of the half.
It marked the second straight victory for the Wildkits, now 11-4-3 overall, following a disappointing trip to a tournament in Burlington, Iowa where they dropped two of three contests last weekend.
“Coach (Franz) Calixte and all of the coaches have talked to Colin about keeping his composure out there, and he showed the discipline and composure we’ve asked for tonight,” praised assistant coach Neal Levin, who filled in for the absent Calixte (parent-teacher conference commitments). “He showed some really selfless play tonight. We couldn’t have asked for more.
“I think the boys understand after that Iowa trip the need for discipline for us to be at a top level for the state playoffs. We got a very good lesson in Burlington. Tonight the first half was not one of our best, but no one panicked. In the second half we did everything we’re supposed to do — and we did it beautifully.”
“Recently I’ve started to realize that I don’t need to score a ton of goals for us to win,” said Thompson. “It’s important for me to stay patient and not just attack, attack, attack all the time. When I do that, it gives me room to get assists or goals when the defense spreads out.
“We got a huge win over Maine South the other night (5-0 on Tuesday) and it felt like we hadn’t won a game in awhile, even though we did win one game in Iowa. We know as a team that if we’re going to make a run in the (Illinois High School Association) state playoffs, we have to work our butts off and work even harder to peak at the right time. The whole team has stepped up, although we did go back to not working hard enough in the first half tonight.
“I didn’t get many touches in the first half, but I found my rhythm in the second half. I just had to stay patient. We got the first goal (of the half) pretty early and then the floodgates opened. It was a great feeling.”
Aidan Tobin’s goal in the 19th minute off a chip pass from Miguel Jimenez staked the Kits to a 1-0 lead, but the Warriors countered with goals by David Dohse and Alex Marron to claim the momentum going into halftime.
But the second half belonged to the Wildkits and Thompson. He started the scoring with a pass almost the width of the field that Nate Pollack buried into the back of the net with 33:21 left in the game.
Seven minutes later, Thompson raced in for a scoring chance and both he and West’s burly goalkeeper, Dean Hernandez, crashed to the turf at the same time. Play continued with no whistle, however, and Pollack was able to flip a shot off the far bar before Hernandez could scramble back to stop the shot at the 26:50 mark.
Thompson earned another assist when he fed Tyler Tomasello for a left-footed shot, and Chloisse Nkurunziza’s goal with 1:36 left sealed the win.
“I felt like we definitely turned the corner tonight,” Thompson added. “Now I think we can peak at the right time.”
Evanston still has regular season dates with Deerfield (Saturday) and Stevenson (next Thursday) before opening postseason play. The Wildkits are seeded third in the Class 3A New Trier Sectional field, behind Glenbrook North and New Trier, and will host their own regional tourney starting on Wednesday, Oct. 18.
The Wildkits play No. 14 Prospect on that date at 4:45 p.m., with the winner of that game advancing to the regional championship game against either No. 7 Niles West or No. 11 Loyola Academy set for Oct. 21.
Dennis Mahoney is sports information director for ETHS.