In a perfect world, OPRF boys soccer coach Paul Wright would much rather be preparing for semifinal play of the Pepsi Showdown this Saturday at the Lyons Soccer Complex in LaGrange.
While the Huskies will be competing in the consolation bracket of the largest tournament in the Midwest this weekend, Wright is still pretty impressed with his team's 2-1 showing in the opening week of the two-week tournament.
"Last week was a hard week for us," Wright said. "We had two starters out with injuries and another player just get back from an extended vacation.
"Having to play five games in five days on the road also made it tough. My guys are drained with soccer and it being the first real week of school. There has been some major growth, and we were able to test some of our reserves and try some things out.
"I would be lying if I said I was happy, but many questions have been answered and we are moving forward. These next two weeks are key."
The Huskies (3-4-1) became the first team in the state to win a four-overtime regular-season game on Sept. 4 when it defeated Andrew on Mark Schroeder's second tally of the match. That goal with 3:31 left placed OPRF in last Thursday's Sweet 16 against defending tournament champion Warren.
Once again, Wright's crew was unable to mustard much offense during a 4-1 loss to the Blue Devils. Drew Golz recorded the Huskies' lone goal on a penalty kick.
"The score of the Warren game does not reflect our effort," Wright said. "We outshot them and outhustled them.
"They got a lucky one to start about 30 yards out. They then punished us on two mistakes in the back. They transitioned well on a last ditch effort we tried to make in the closing 10 minutes, which put a nail in the coffin."
OPRF bounced back on Saturday to record a 2-1 victory over Lincoln-Way East. Golz had both goals for the Huskies.
"It was nice to beat a coaching legend," said Wright, referring to Lincoln-Way East coach Brian Papa. "We picked up a few things to implement, and I think it's going to help us later in the year.
"We love this tournament, because we get to see so many teams. It allows us to play some big time programs. It shows us where we are at, plus it serves as a reality check. Every player on Warren had great touch and you could see the year-round commitment to high-level soccer on that team. That's where we want to be."
The Huskies kickoff West Suburban (Silver) Conference play at home on Tuesday against Hinsdale Central (4:30 p.m.).