Fenwick boys soccer coach Tony Hepburn has never been one to play games.
After his team’s 2-0 loss to rival Oak Park and River Forest Friday in Oak Park, the first-year coach got straight to the point in his post-game comments.
“I think we all know the better team won today,” Hepburn said. “They outplayed us, and deserved to win. We were totally outclassed.”
Pat Maldre and Jared Reddrick provided the offense for the Huskies in the season-opener for both squads, while Jim Gullo posted his first shutout of the season.
“I’m not surprised at all by how we played,” OPRF coach Paul Wright said. “We have a lot of talent this year, and it’s great to open the season against a team like Fenwick. You are able to find out right away where you stand.”
Maldre got the Huskies on the board less than seven minutes into the game when he knocked an Aaron Press throw-in to the left corner of the net. Fenwick goalie John Bauer was caught flat-footed, which allowed Maldre to easily tap the ball home.
“It was a long throw, and I don’t think they were ready for that,” Maldre said. “Once I saw the opening, I just [went for] it.”
Reddrick extended the Huskies’ cushion to 2-0 with 8:50 to play in the opening half.
The Friars tried to catch OPRF napping with a defensive trap, but a miscue by a Fenwick defender allowed the Huskies to remain onside. Seconds later, Reddrick hammered a Mark Rosenberg rebound past Bauer, who was caught in the mad scramble in front of the net.
“We’re a young team that lost three big players, so we have a ways to go,” Hepburn said. “Our midfield play was missing, and that’s something we have to correct. We have a tough schedule at the start of the season, so it’s not going to get any easier.”
The Huskies’ backline of Nate Race, Bradley Clark, Graham Kilian and Press was able to slowdown Fenwick’s forward attack of Nick Harvalis and Killian Frailey.
But when those two managed to find an opening, Gullo slammed the door each time. “He’s one of the best goalies in the area,” Wright said. “This is just the beginning of what I think is going to be a great season for him.”
Gullo, a 6-foot-1-inch senior, was only tested a handful of times late in the second half when Fenwick was forced to push up a few extra players on the attack.
“The defense in front of me did a great job,” Gullo said. “Fenwick didn’t have a lot of shots, and that’s because of the way my defense shut them down.
“I’m really excited about this team. We had a great year last year, and there are a lot of players back. Beating Fenwick to start the season is only going to help our confidence level.”
Wright also was pleased with the play of his midfield foursome of Pat Koller, Drew Golz, Rosenberg and Maldre.
“I was very happy with a lot of things,” Wright said. “It’s only one game, but it’s a great way to start the season.”