Playing with two sprained ankles didn’t prevent Will Weinman from leading Evanston’s soccer team in scoring this fall.

But he might be even better in the second season, now that he’s healthy.

Weinman delivered his first multiple goal effort of the 2018 campaign, and also assisted on Evanston’s other goal, as the Wildkits opened Class 3A regional tournament play at Glenbrook North with a 3-0 blanking of Hersey.

Evanston (15-5-2) advanced to Saturday’s regional championship contest after scoring all 3 goals in the second half Tuesday. The Wildkits will meet Glenbrook North, a 4-2 winner over Maine West, in the title game at 11 a.m.

Evanston veteran coach Franz Calixte is used to seeing seniors step up in the so-called “second season” and believes Weinman may become even more of a go-to performer now that he’s not limited by injury.

“The first half was a little scary, but this win feels good,” Calixte said. “Will is consistently becoming our most dangerous player and he can play any position on top. Now that his ankles are 100 percent, he’s able to take more chances and he’s the perfect player for our system. He’s also playing for his teammates more, and the result is that they’re finding him more, too.”

“I sprained both of my ankles in the summer, and I was still able to play,” said the senior forward. “But it really limited the moves I could make, and I couldn’t go into tackles as hard. You also start to second guess yourself before you try things because you’re hurt.

“I stopped taping my ankles about 2 days ago and I felt like I was about 95 percent at that point. This morning when I woke up I was  meditating, and I felt like I hadn’t played to my full potential this season because I hadn’t scored more than one goal in a game. I told myself I’d be 100 percent if I went out and scored more than one.

“Both of my goals (he now has a team-best 10 on the season) were just tap-ins, though. All of the credit should go to my teammates because the crosses and passes were right there for me. They’re the reason I was able to get those shots off.”

Despite dominating the time of possession in the first half, the Kits — seeded 3rd in the Evanston Sectional field — were only able to put a couple of shots on goal. Defender Eric Cyiza had the best opportunity, when he struck a vicious shot as the clock was ticking down to zero. The ball hit the left post but didn’t bounce over the goal line and that misfortune for ETHS preserved a 0-0 tie.

The Kits cranked up their offense after the intermission. Weinman had his first chance on a pass from Ben Sollinger in the first minute of the half, but Hersey goalie Nick Clarizio grabbed the shot attempt.

Five minutes later, Weinman found the back of the net on a feed from junior defender Nick James. He picked up an assist on a long ball that teammate Reed Hurtig headed past Clarizio in the 63rd minute, then scored himself on a head shot, a rebound of an original chance by Dylan Kimball.   

Dennis Mahoney

Dennis Mahoney is sports information director for Evanston Township High School.

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