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Coach: Paul Wright
Assistant coaches:
Luis Perez, Robert Fox
Sam Lisak Jr., GK
Joey Pasternak Jr., GK
Tim Huettel Sr., M
Seamus Blaha Jr., M
Noah Fluharty Jr., M
Mike Hoke Sr., M
Quinn Neuman Jr., F
Quentin Drane Jr., M
Joe Gullo Jr., M
Steve Hawthorne Sr., M
Evan Kindler So., M
Jesse Kusimba Sr., F
Erik Arsovski Sr., D
Mavin  Gill Jr., D
Kirk Svensson Jr., D
Bryndon Bush Jr., D
Harry Engoren Jr., F
Stevie Samuels Sr., D
Robbie Holmes Sr., F

Huskies' shutout streak ends vs. Hinsdale Central


By Dave Owen

Hinsdale Central’s defense was a brick wall in host Oak Park and River Forest’s bid for an upset win Tuesday.

The Red Devils (14-0-2) blocked numerous shot attempts and limited the high-quality chances of a strong Huskies’ attack for much of the game, while the offense used an early goal and three insurance scores in the last 22 minutes of the match to pull away to a 4-0 win.

“They have four big guys in the back,” OPRF coach Paul Wright said, “and they did a great job of having two guys step on the ball and do a great job closing down angles.

“Everybody on their back line has to be 6 feet, 180 pounds. They’re big strong kids, and they did a great job. That’s why they’re the No. 1 seed in our sectional and one of the top teams in the state this year.”

Hinsdale Central’s offense is also formidable, as the Red Devils wasted no time snapping OPRF’s streak of three shutouts in a row.

In just the 4th minute of play, a barrage of shots on Oak Park goalkeeper Sam Lisak ended with Bryan Loebig’s rebound score that put the Red Devils ahead to stay.

“Coach always stresses get that first goal,” Loebig said. “That sets the momentum for our team and builds strength.”

Shots by Christian Meyer and Brandon Kim (assist) preceded Loebig’s finish.
“It was a great ball from Christian,” he said, “and I kind of anticipated where it would be and put it away.”

The early score was part of a strong but deceiving day for Lisak, who routinely made big saves but eventually was done in by waves of Red Devil pressure.

“He got a piece of every single goal,” Wright said. “It wasn’t him touching it and letting it go in, it was him stopping it and us failing to clear.

“I felt like the score wasn’t indicative of our performance at all. The first goal our keeper made three saves and we didn’t have anybody clear it out. The second goal was a scramble in front of the net where Sam Lisak got two or three pieces of it. The third goal we had two poor chances to clear it, and the fourth goal probably doesn’t happen if we’re playing with four guys in back instead of three.”

Meyer’s rebound shot with 22:06 left and two goals by Alex Knight (at 12:14, then 34 seconds) accounted for the rest of the Red Devils’ scoring, but not before the Huskies made an impressive statement.

Down 1-0 to an elite team, OPRF (6-5-4) proceeded to generate great chances late in the first half and into the second.

After enduring a Meyer shot just wide in the 23rd minute of play, the Huskies had three strong bids to tie late in the half.

The best came 5:15 before the break. Off an Erik Arsovski throw-in, Noah Fluharty played a nice ball to Evan Kindler near the net – whose 5-yard header went just wide right.

Minutes earlier, TJ Schmidt cleared the zone on a prolonged OPRF attack, and Red Devils’ goalkeeper Wes Bergevin nicely came off his line to catch a Stevie Samuels corner kick into a crowd.

“Wes Bergevin our goalkeeper has just grown game after game,” Hinsdale Central coach Mike Wiggins said. “The great thing is to see his confidence growing – he’s building such a presence.”

And the defensive presence of players such as Max Krohn, Evan Floersch, Schmidt, Jack Niestrom, Josh Meyer and Will McGowen has made the Red Devils’ defense formidable.
“Our guys in the back have stood strong and stood tall,” Wiggins said. “They fill their roles incredibly well. It’s really a credit to every player that steps into the system, if you look at how we close players down and find seams and give good cover at the right place.”

Closing down OPRF turned out to be a big challenge.

“We knew we were coming into a very competitive and physical game, and we got both of those for sure,” Wiggins said. “I don’t think we handled the physical part of the game very well – we kind of fell into a little more back and forth than we care for.”

“In the first half they were coming at us with a high level of intensity,” Schmidt said. “They really came out ready to play for this game, but at halftime our focus was that we really need to bring it back to them with a higher level of play. I thought we were able to do that and limit their chances.”

But not before another big challenge in the 3rd minute of the second half, when  Kindler’s header off Tim Huettel’s 18-yard direct kick from right of the goal was deflected just wide. Bergevin then caught Purvis Funches’ header try off the ensuing Samuels corner kick.

“I think the tide would have turned if we had scored in the last 10 (minutes) of the first or first 10 of the second half,” Wright said. “You would have seen them react a little different, and we would have had a little more charge. But we just didn’t have the finishing touch.

“Their No. 9 in back (Krohn) really cleaned a lot up. They did a great job winning first and second balls, and we were just missing that final rip. They’re a great team, but I felt like we played them toe to toe for 60 of the 80 minutes. They just punished us on some silly mistakes and errors we couldn’t take care of.”

Arsovski’s 20-yard one-timer wide of the net off a Mavin Gill throw-in with 25:15 left was OPRF’s last bid to tie before the Red Devils struck.

After a Huskies’ foul , Floersch’s typically powerful 42-yard direct kick was batted away by Lisak. But the loose ball resulted in rebound shots by Kim and Loebig (one of which was blocked off the goal line by OPRF’s Harry Engoren) before Meyer lined a low rebound shot inside the left post for a 2-0 lead at 22:06.

“We finally got that one past,” Loebig said. “That ball is always deadly. Coach always stresses those restarts, and Evan Floersch plays a great ball (on free kicks). You just like to get on the end of those.”

That goal started an offensive push for the Red Devils. OPRF defenders Samuels and Kirk Svensson combined to deny Sam Johnson’s chance in the box off a Justin Yi throw-in, then Lisak made a nice save with 16:30 left on Meyer’s 12-yard shot.

Later, Bryndon Bush (on Meyer) and Gill (nice sliding play to deny a potential breakaway by the Red Devils’ JD Garnett) made nice plays to contain threats. But the Red Devils were far from bottled up.

With 12:14 left, Lisak nicely saved an initial 10-yard shot by Niestrom before Knight put away the rebound.

Then after blocked shots by McGowen, Daniel Lillard and Niestrom repelled OPRF chances over a four-minute span, Knight broke free on right wing and lined a low shot inside the far corner of the net for his second goal and a 4-0 lead.

“I thought we did a much better job in the second half settling down,” Wiggins said, “connecting passes, finding the upfront players, building off of those guys and possessing a little bit better.”

Bergevin’s catch of a deflected shot by OPRF’s Robbie Holmes with five seconds left sealed the Red Devils’ latest shutout.

“We defend very well as a team,” Schmidt said, “but we also have a really good spirited team, a good group of guys. We have a lot of fun playing together and we play for each other as a group, so I think that’s been a big focus for us. Hopefully it’ll help us continue to have success later in the year.”

The Huskies hope some small adjustments will get them right back on their late-season rise.

“We definitely could have done better in a lot of little areas, like switching the ball and communication that could have altered this game,” Gill said. “I thought we did well holding them to as few shots as we could, but there are things we could have done better.

“But they (the Red Devils) have good speed and a lot of great players,” Gill added. “They had a couple of good finishes, and we had some unlucky chances on our part.”
The Red Devils’ defense made OPRF finishes tough.

“We weren’t able to capitalize on corners and some of our set plays like we did before,” Wright said. “They have big kids back there, and we have to get up and at them instead of jumping and turning. If we put one away, maybe that changes the outlook of the game.”

Wright stressed the positive of facing a team of Hinsdale Central’s caliber as the postseason near - with a possible rematch in the cards.

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