OPRF soccer cruises to RB Regional title

Bliss, Zobel and Maguire power Huskies past Hinsdale Central

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Scotty Gruszka

Contributing Reporter

The Oak Park and River Forest High School boys soccer team blanked Hinsdale Central 4-0 on Saturday, Oct. 21 to capture the Riverside-Brookfield Regional championship. The Huskies dominated the game and found the back of the net four times thanks to Zach Zobel, James Maguire, and two goals from Brody Bliss.

"Today was a great game all around," OPRF coach Jason Fried said. "We're talking about putting together 80 minutes of soccer and staying focused and today they came pretty darn close to that. A big part of our possession came from us playing extremely focused."

OPRF took down Hubbard 5-0 in the regional semifinals and found themselves up against a familiar conference foe in Hinsdale Central.

Right from kick off the Huskies moved the ball around and held on to possession. Senior midfield captain Andrew Barkidjija and fellow senior midfielder Bobby Iwashima held down the middle of the field and orchestrated several runs.

Several times in the first ten minutes Barkidjija and Iwashima found Brody Bliss streaking down the left side of the field, exploiting a weak Hinsdale Central defense. OPRF's best chance early on in the game came from a Bliss cross that found Sam Menzies in the middle of the box who put it just over the bar.

Following a stint of Hinsdale Central possessions which resulted in a free kick, senior captain goalkeeper Kel Felton punched it away which lead to an OPRF counter-attack. Barkidjija sent a through ball down the left side to Menzies, who crossed it in to connect with the head of Bliss, who punched it in to give the Huskies a 1-0 lead.

The Huskies weren't threatened by any serious Red Devils' push, parrying away any sort of attack thrown at them. The trio of Barkidjija, Menzies and Bliss continued to cause fits for the Hinsdale Central defense all the way through to the end of the first half.

The second half began with a goal only five minutes into the half, courtesy of a corner from Barkidjija, who found James Maguire to head it in to extend the lead to 2-0.

The Red Devils found their attack in the following minutes and a free kick sent Felton scrambling onto a loose ball in the box, squashing any hopes of a Hinsdale Central comeback.

In the 55th minute, Iwashima sent a through ball to Menzies to create a break away, who then cut it back to Bliss for his second goal of the match and a commanding 3-0 lead. 

The Huskies continued to hold possession and Hinsdale Central became less organized as the match waned, which led to a smooth final twenty minutes of the match.

Jai Hsieh-Bailey sent a low cross in with three minutes to go and found senior forward Zach Zobel who tapped it in to cap off the Huskies' regional championship via a convincing 4-0 win.

"We came out here with a goal," Barkidjija said. "We wanted to put [Hinsdale Central] away in the first ten to fifteen minutes of every half and we were able to do just that."

Moving forward, the Huskies will have a hard-fought game against Lyons Township on Wednesday, Oct. 25 in a Hinsdale Central Sectional semifinal. Game time is 4:30 p.m.

The winner of OPRF vs. LTHS will face the winner of Downers Grove North vs. Morton, with both matchups promising a stellar sectional of four teams. The Hinsdale Central Sectional final is Friday, Oct. 27 at 5 p.m.

Regardless of which teams the Huskies take on, Fried remains unfazed as OPRF is brimming with confidence.

"We'll look to see who we're playing," said Fried, "but our guys are fast, strong, and smart players. If we continue to get better and put together 80 minutes of solid soccer then it doesn't matter who we're playing."



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Gerri Humbert from River Forest  

Posted: October 22nd, 2017 10:53 PM

Sectional playoff game versus LT is on Wednesday, not Tuesday as the article states. Wednesday at 4:30 at Hinsdale Central.

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