By Brad Spencer
The OPRF soccer team closed out the regular season by playing to a 1-1 tie against New Trier on Friday, but the game marked the return of North Carolina-bound goalkeeper Sam Euler who had been out battling mononucleosis since last month. With the senior's return, the Huskies remain a viable threat to advance far into the playoffs.
Hosting their own regional, OPRF, seeded fifth, were scheduled to take on 12th-seeded De La Salle last night (after print deadline, but check the sports blog at oakpark.com for results). A victory over the Meteors would likely pit OPRF up against fourth-seed Downers Grove South on Friday at Oak Park Stadium (5:30 p.m.). As of last week, the Mustangs were ranked in the top 10 along with OPRF.
Euler was released by a doctor last week and practiced with the team before starting and playing the entirety of Friday's game. The senior finished with 15 saves in the game. Elias El Mentanni scored OPRF's goal.
The Huskies also closed out West Suburban (Silver) Conference play last week with a 1-0 win over Glenbard West. The victory solidified a tie for second place in the conference with Downers Grove North, a team the Huskies fell 2-1 to in overtime due to penalty kicks. Downers North crushed rival Downers South 4-1 earlier in the season, so a regional title is certainly attainable for the Huskies.
"We could win it all and head downstate or lose in the regional final," said OPRF head coach Paul Wright. "It will be a very tough route, but we are prepared."
If all goes well for OPRF, highly-ranked Morton could be waiting in the first round of the Argo Sectional on Oct. 26. The Huskies scored a 2-0 victory over Morton just two weeks ago, but Morton head coach Mike Caruso sat a few of his starters. If OPRF can manage an upset, the team will likely face top-ranked and defending Class 3A State champ Lyons Township, a team the Huskies fell to 2-1 on Oct. 7.
No matter how far they advance in the playoffs, there's no question OPRF had a successful regular season. With Mentanni's penalty kick goal in the win over Glenbard West, the team finished conference play with a 4-2 mark. With the tie to New Trier, the Huskies entered the postseason with a 13-4-3 overall record.