By Marty Farmer
Whenever any Oak Park and River Forest H. S. and Fenwick teams square off in an athletic contest, interest is guaranteed. The crosstown rivals renewed acquaintance on the soccer pitch at Oak Park Stadium last week (Oct. 3) to battle for the inaugural Prevail Cup. The Huskies walked away with a convincing 4-0 victory, in-town bragging rights and ownership of the cup.
"We came out strong and played really well today," OPRF junior goalkeeper Sam Lisak said. "We were very excited and pumped up for this game. It's obviously a big rivalry because a lot of the players from both teams know each other. We've improved a lot, kept our composure and had some good results this season."
The Huskies scored early and often against an injury-riddled Fenwick squad.
"I think Oak Park scored two goals in the first 10 minutes," Fenwick coach Rob Watson said. "I don't want to make excuses, but I've got three captains who are all defenders that are injured. We had some inexperience in the [defensive] backfield and Oak Park took advantage of it. It's a fun game for the community and the kids, and I'm glad we were about to help a good cause."
OPRF senior midfielder Tim Huettel scored at 36:25 off an assist from Jessie Kusimba to open the scoring. The Huskies' Evan Kindler added a goal from 20 yards out, assisted by Huettel, doubling the OPRF advantage to 2-0. Noah Fluharty and Huettel each netted a goal over the final 2:30 of the first half to make the score 4-0.
"This was our first big game where we scored a bunch of goals and set the tone early," OPRF coach Paul Wright said. "It's great to have the community come out and support this game as well as Prevail. This is always a great experience and what high school sports should be about."
Even at full strength, the Friars would have their hands full with the clearly motivated Huskies.
"The first half was kind of rough," Fenwick defender Jimmy Madormo said. "We started out slow, but in the second half we did the best we could even though we were short-handed."
Fenwick defenders/captains Tom Smith and Joaquin Camara sat out the second half. Watson estimates five or six Friars are nursing injuries.
Huettel, who finished with two goals and two assists against Fenwick, has played at a high level all season. He's tallied a team-high nine goals and eight assists for the Huskies this fall. Huettel has also never lost to the boys in black and white.
"Four years in a row we have won against Fenwick," Huettel said. "We really stepped it up with high pressure early and put them away. Everybody was involved today. I think our team is really coming together nicely."
OPRF improved to 6-4-4 overall and 1-2 in the West Suburban (Silver) Conference with a conference match this week against highly regarded Hinsdale Central.
Fenwick (4-6-4) remains in the thick of the Chicago Catholic League race with key matches against De La Salle and St. Ignatius this week. If the Friars win those two games, they will repeat as CCL champs.
The Prevail Cup game is a newly named annual game between the OPRF and Fenwick boys soccer teams, designed to benefit Prevail, an Oak Park-based charitable organization. Prevail functions as a compassionate advocate for people in the Oak Park, River Forest and surrounding communities who are facing financial crisis and in search of a path to stability. Proceeds from the game raised over $1,000 for Prevail.
"Last year, when we were still the Walk-In Ministry, they invited us to be the spotlighted charity," Prevail's Executive Director Cristy Harris wrote in an email. "The teams loved supporting the important work we do in the community. When we re-branded this year to Prevail, the concept of an ongoing Prevail Cup just flowed naturally from our new name."
Clarification of Wednesday Journal print issue: In this week's print edition of the Wednesday Journal, the proceeds from the game are listed as $5,000 raised for Prevail which is incorrect. The accurate amount of money raised was $1,000 per this web story. The Wednesday Journal regrets the error.