Playing with composure under pressure, and doing whatever it takes to win are the two ingredients it takes to succeed in the Illinois High School Association state soccer tournament series.
Those are two areas where Evanston has excelled all year, and nothing has changed in the one-and-done portion of the season, either.
A fluke goal by Caleb Trautvetter — the first of his varsity career — helped the Wildkits oust Glenbrook North 2-1 in the semifinals of the Class 3A Glenbrook North Sectional tournament Tuesday night and powered the top-seeded Kits to the sectional championship game for the third year in a row.
ETHS (20-1-3) surrendered a goal for the first time since Sept. 24, snapping a string of 12 straight shutouts. But goals by Trautvetter and Jesus Villasenor had already staked the visitors to a 2-0 advantage and they hung on to advance to the finals, holding the Spartans scoreless over the last 12 minutes.
The Wildkits will meet No. 6 seed Leyden, a 2-0 winner over Niles North in the other semifinal, for the sectional title on Saturday at 1 p.m. at GBN. Winner of that game will face the Stevenson Sectional champion next Tuesday at the Barrington Supersectional.
Trautvetter was perhaps the most unlikely hero on the pitch for ETHS. The senior stepped into a starting role on defense after junior Josh Klier suffered a broken nose in the regional finals versus Loyola Academy. He broke a scoreless tie in the 24th minute in unusual fashion.
Trautvetter chased down a ball near the GBN 30-yard line and cleared it back in towards the net. The drive took one hop off the artificial turf and Spartan goalkeeper Ian Albert mistimed his leap just enough for the ball to glance through his hands — and into the back of the net.
“That was a lucky goal, but I’ll take it,” Trautvetter said. “I was just trying to clear the ball so Glenbrook North couldn’t get a counterattack going. I think Chuy (Villasenor) set a pick on the goalie and it just went in.
“I was really nervous all day today. There was a lot of pressure on me, and Josh has big shoes to fill. He’s a great player. I played alright, but I still think I forced things a little too much. The most important thing? We got the W.”
ETHS head coach Franz Calixte will find out Saturday if this current squad can get over the sectional final hump that the 2014 and 2013 teams couldn’t clear.
“I really didn’t think this was a good game for us tonight. But in the past we’ve had trouble winning ugly games like this,” Calixte pointed out. “If we weren’t able to keep possession or we weren’t able to stick to our game plan, we’d panic. But these guys have played with composure all year and they’ll do whatever it takes to win. That’s what it takes to win in the playoffs.
“I thought Caleb stepped in for Josh and played well. He was a little nervous early in the game, but once he found his groove — and scored that goal — he acted like he belonged out there.”
Evanston’s second goal came in the 62nd minute, when Christyan De La Cruz slipped a pass through the GBN defense and Villasenor booted it home. That turned out to be the actual game-winner because the hosts responded with a give-and-go play from Seth Grossman to Kamil Barabas. Barabas beat ETHS goalie Adam Masters, who has allowed only 4 total goals all season.
Masters finished with 4 saves Tuesday night and none were required over the last 12 minutes as the Spartans were unable to put another shot on goal.
Source: ETHS Sports Information