Oak Park and River Forest H.S. midfielder Tim Huettel is a difference maker for the Huskies. The skilled and savvy senior appears more than ready to continue his impactful play as the Huskies turn their attention to the playoffs this week.
Huettel has scored 13 goals and dished out nine assists this season, highlighted by a two-goal, two-assist gem to power the Huskies' 4-0 victory over rival Fenwick (Oct. 3). After closing out the regular season with a 0-0 tie against Nazareth last week, Huettel reflected on what's done and what remains regarding the Huskies' 2013 soccer narrative.
"The end of our regular season was very strong," Huettel said about the Huskies, who finished 9-5-5 during the regular season. "The playoffs will definitely show the efforts we've made to become better players."
OPRF head coach Paul Wright knows the focused Huettel will assume an integral role for the Huskies once the postseason kicks off.
"His ball handing has been phenomenal," Wright said. "He can really dictate the direction and flow of the game through his play."
Huettel's passion for soccer developed at an early age, at first kicking the ball around with his older brothers when he was five years old. Huettel emulated his older brother, Ryan, who was also a senior captain at OPRF and now plays soccer at Colorado College.
"My brothers were definitely the reason I started playing," he said. "We were always outside playing sports. When they started playing soccer, I just joined them."
Huettel carries ambitions of playing soccer at the next level. Among the schools he's considering, the possibility of joining Ryan on the pitch at Colorado College is certainly appealing. Denison University, St. Olaf College, and Macalester College have also expressed interest in securing the services of Huettel next season.
Whichever college he chooses, Huettel possesses the skill set and mental makeup to carve out a stellar college career in the estimation of his high school head coach.
"He wants to battle all the time," Wright said. "Tim is the first [player] to compliment another player, but he's also the first to remind someone to hold the standard that we expect [at OPRF]."
When Huettel isn't on the soccer field, he enjoys reading the Harry Potter series, bike riding or napping. As for the feeling of playing his beloved sport, the affable Huettel is almost rendered speechless.
"I can't even put it into words," Huettel said about soccer. "It's very carefree, like I forget everything else that's going on outside of the game. I'm only focusing on what I need to do to win."
As his OPRF career draws to a close, Huettel's taking time to cherish the experience. His favorite memory to date was the Huskies' dramatic 2-1 victory over defending Class 3A state champion Morton in a regional championship meeting last season. Huettel netted both goals to shock the Mustangs in carrying the Huskies to their 13th regional title.
He believes the current varsity edition of OPRF soccer is capable of more postseason magic.
The Huskies, the No.6 seed in the stacked Hinsdale South Sectional featuring powerhouse programs Hinsdale Central and Morton along with Fenwick, open the playoffs against Proviso East (Oct. 22). If OPRF gets past the Pirates, a regional final matchup against the winner of Benet/Hinsdale South awaits Friday (4:30 p.m.) at Hinsdale South.
"Winning the regional and getting even farther than last year is the main goal," Huettel said. "Teamwork and camaraderie have always been a big part of Huskie soccer. Being on this soccer team has definitely been my favorite part of high school."