Of the top six seeds in the IHSA boys soccer Class 3A New Trier sectional, there was an outlier.
Five of the programs — Evanston, New Trier, Loyola Academy, Glenbrook North and Glenbrook South — are within five miles of each other, but No. 3 Oak Park-River Forest is not; though, they are fitting in just fine.
OP-RF knocked off second-seeded New Trier 1-0 Tuesday, Oct. 26, in Northfield in a semifinal of the power-packed sectional in which the top four teams came in with an average of two losses apiece.
“It was stacked for sure,” Trevs coach Matt Ravenscraft said of the sectional. “OP-RF is not a team that we’ve seen. … There is no easy pathway out of our sectional. We unfortunately haven’t been able to get out of our sectional in a few years. Whoever gets out of our sectional is one to watch.”
The Huskies head to the sectional championship for a date with top-seeded Evanston on Saturday, Oct. 30.
The Trevs’ loss on Tuesday was just their second on the season to counter 17 victories and a draw. They were riding a 10-match winning streak and had aspirations of a state trophy.
New Trier started its postseason play with victories over Taft (4-0) and St. Patrick (4-0) to earn a regional title on Saturday, Oct. 23.
In other regional brackets, chaos was underway, as No. 6 Glenbrook South downed No. 4 Loyola in penalty kicks at home and No. 1 Evanston survived a shootout against No. 8 Lane Tech. Evanston then topped GBS 1-0 in overtime on Tuesday, Oct. 26.
Early in New Trier’s match with OP-RF, the Trevs controlled possession and opportunities in the first half, but they couldn’t find the back of the net.
The Huskies wouldn’t make that mistake.
“The boys competed really hard and executed our game plan throughout most of the match. It sounds cliche, but OP-RF had one good chance, and credit to them they buried it,” Ravenscraft said. “We had four or five relatively good chances and just weren’t able to capitalize.”
That dynamic is the beauty and the beast of the game, said Aidan Crawford, the Trevians senior goalie.
“Soccer is a tough sport sometimes,” he said. “I think we all felt like we controlled a lot of that game and had a lot of opportunities. They ended up having an even better opportunity. That’s the way soccer is sometimes
Early in the second half, the Huskies went on the counter attack and fed a through ball past the Trevs back line to create a one-on-one with New Trier’s goalkeeper.
Ravenscraft gave all the credit to the Huskies on the scoring play and the win.
“It was a really well worked play in transition,” he said. “We had a couple moments to intercept a pass or keep them on one side, but they are good at soccer. … Sometimes other teams are allowed to be good at soccer. They have quality and talent and special players on the field. One of their top players made a big play in a big game and it ended up being the difference.”
In the wake of the tally, Ravenscraft felt his team was still playing well and on the verge of an equalizer. But the final buzzer sounded before it happened.
“Maybe we maybe could have looked to put more shots on frame in a few moments but more than anything it feels like we ran out of time,” he said. “We just ran out of time.”
In the 17-win campaign, the Trevians were led by their three senior captains: Crawford and midfielders Ronan O’Neill (4 goals) and James Paden (7 goals).
Fellow seniors Peter Kanellos (5 goals) and Will Pasia (6 assists) provided playmaking up top, while Ely Wilson (2 goals, 2 assists) added punch from a defensive position.
“I couldn’t be more proud of this team and couldn’t be more grateful to captain a team like this,” Crawford said. “Looking at a 17-2 record, that’s the best record I’ve ever had. We can take a lot of pride in that for sure. I think we really rose to a lot of challenges this year and proved to be one of the best teams in the state. It’s unfortunate we couldn’t prove that in our second season: the postseason.”
Junior Matthew Perchik (12 goals, 6 assists) and sophomore Evan Kanellos (8 goals, 6 assists) were the team’s leading scorers supported by juniors like Theo Franzen, Eli Drake and Aiden NIcholson (2 goals, 4 assists).
Crawford, who will a goalie for Loyola University at Chicago next season, is looking forward to watching the Trevians next season.
“I’m excited for what future of this program holds,” he said. “We had a lot of underclassmen play huge roles on the team this year. … I can’t wait to see what they do after a great offseason and then playing kids their own age.”