Bumpy road for Friars, but young team improving

Team has struggled at Pepsi Showdown

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By JOE TROST

The start to the 2005 season has been a rocky one for the Fenwick boys' soccer team.

But despite getting off to a 1-2-2 start, Fenwick coach Tony Hepburn couldn't be more pleased with his squad.

"I'm really happy with the work-rate of the kids," Hepburn said. "We've been training a lot, and it really is a great group of kids to work with."

The Friars captured their first win of the season Saturday in the third round of the Pepsi Showdown at Lyons Township High School in LaGrange.

Behind two goals from Nick Harvalis, Fenwick cruised to 6-1 victory over Bradley in consolation play. Joe Elpayaa, Andre Seckler, Alex Wallach and Dan Hernandez also added single tallies.

"It was nice to get that first win," Hepburn said. "Before that game, we were not taking advantage of our chances. But when we got in front of the net against Bradley, we took shots."

Hepburn's squad opened the tournament with a 4-1 loss to Libertyville. The Friars stumbled again in the second round, falling to Whitney Young 3-1.

"We played good for a stretch against Libertyville, but we're just flat against Whitney Young," Hepburn said. "We're young, and we're still learning."

Up next for Hepburn's squad is St. Charles North, which bowed out of the championship bracket in the second round.

Fenwick will host the North Stars on Thursday. St. Charles North owns a 2-1 record in tournament play. It knocked off Plainfield Central and Lincoln-Way East, while falling to Warren.

"We're playing good teams right now, and that's only going to benefit us in the long run," Hepburn said. "It's going to be tough for us to compete in the Class AA State tournament this year, but this tournament is preparing us. It's just a preview of what is to come."

After their season-opening loss to Oak Park and River Forest, Hepburn stressed his concern about the lack of midfield play the Friars showed.

But that hasn't been the case of late.

"Alex, Joe and Andre have been playing real well of late," Hepburn said. "We needed to step it up.

"We changed some things around, and I think it's helped us. We're improving, and we're going to get better."

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