Rivalry at fever pitch for OPRF-Fenwick soccer

Soccer columnist

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Chuck Race

It will seem like "old home week" this Friday at 4:30 p.m. when OPRF soccer squares off against its cross-town neighbors Fenwick. Make no mistake; the competition will be at fever pitch as is the case when these schools meet in any sport. But when the two squads line up for the kickoff, players will gaze across the field and recognize former teammates and old friends. The reason? Many of these guys played together as Rapids, fashioning a track record that would be the envy of any elite club soccer program. Perhaps Friars Matt Altier, Joe Elpayaa, Marty Dunbar, Will Darley, and Colin Nivens will look at the OPRF side and recognize Drew Golz, Nate Race, Patrik Maldre, Mark Rosenberg, and Aaron Press and recall the good times when they played together at the highest level of their league for several years, knocking the ball against the Sockers, Magic, Chicago Wind, Schwaben and other premier clubs. After the game, the conversation may turn to the summer of 2002 when most of these Rapids traveled to Europe to compete in the Italy Cup.

One thing for sure, nobody is taking this match lightly. Not the coaches, Paul Wright of OPRF and Fenwick's Tony Hepburn, both in their first seasons as varsity boys' coaches. According to Elpayaa, Hepburn has been looking forward to this game all summer. The gamesmanship was heightened last week when OPRF offered to host the game at the stadium, in anticipation of a large crowd. Hepburn however declined the offer, preferring no doubt to keep the game at the smaller, slower Fenwick field at the Priory.

The chess match-on-match day will be fascinating to watch. What formations will the squads come out with? Who will be the heroes of this year's tilt? Will this year's contest match the excitement of last year's when Fenwick scored in the waning moments to tie the score?

Excitement is equally keen on the Huskie side, according to Press. "We've been talking about the game all week, even during tryouts."

The Huskies will field an experienced squad of 16, led by returning starters Robin Hargadon (leading scorer last year), Regional ODP player Rosenberg, Jared Rifis, goalkeeper Jim Gullo, and super soph and speed demon Drew Golz. Kevin Blaha, Brad Clarke, Patrik Maldre, and former Strikers Chris McCole, Pat Koller, Dan Finnegan, Liam Bird, Graham Kilian and Hilil Ehrman will also be counted on for important contributions.

Striker news

Striker girls score at Elgin tournament: The U17 and U18 Striker girls stormed the Elgin Back to School Classic August 20-21 with impressive performances. The U17 side captured first place in their bracket, winning all four matches, scoring nine goals while conceding only three. Illustrating the depth of the team, goals were evenly distributed among Tasia Race (3), Rachel Huck (2), Molly Sutton (2), Colleen Kearns, and Casey Blaha. The defense was anchored by Theresa Yerkes, Nina Terrabessy, Marja Anton, Grace Brofman, and goalkeeper Madeline Heaphy, while midifielders Colleen Harmon, Blaha, Kearns, Clare Reisman created several assists with crisp passing. Forwards Janel Brown, Alex Neumann, Race and Sutton bedeviled opposing defenses thoughout the tournament. The team was coached by David Parker.

The U18 Strikers, competing in the highest of three divisions, had a tougher road to travel but still managed to make it to the championship game on the strength of 1-0 wins over strong Bartlett and Elmhurst teams. The team fell to Elgin United 2-0 in the championship game.

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