As the high school soccer regular season trickles down to just a few more games, it’s likely to be anything but smooth-going for OPRF before the playoffs begin. But the Huskies appear to be up for the challenge.
As of this writing the Huskies (7-4-1) had five games left on the regular season schedule, including premiere showdowns against West Suburban (Silver) Conference rival Lyons Township and cross-town rival Fenwick. Both games will be momentum builders for the victors, with the Lyons showdown at OPRF on Thursday (5 p.m.) possibly setting the stage for a rematch in the Class 3A sectional title game.
“I feel great about our sectional,” said OPRF head coach Paul Wright, whose team was seeded No. 2 behind the Lions in the sectional last week. “[And] I am glad that the sectional is back at Lyons. It’s a first-rate facility, and having night games allows parents and fans to come.”
The Huskies, who are hosting the regional, will play the winner of the Clemente/Proviso West game on May 18 (3:30 p.m.). The regional championship is slated for May 21 at 5:30 p.m., with the victors going on to possibly play a couple of evening games in the sectional.
In order to prep for such games during the playoffs, OPRF will host Fenwick on May 13 (6 p.m.) under the lights at Oak Park Stadium. The Friars (9-8-1) are the sixth seed in the sectional, and if their able to emerge from the Morton Regional, OPRF could see them in the sectional semifinal on May 25.
There’s no doubt the Huskies wouldn’t mind a do-over of all four of its losses this season. Actually, the team would probably settle for just re-playing one half of those games. OPRF has had its share of troubled starts this season.
“The problem I think is that we are just not as confident as we should be,” said Wright. “Too often we come out flat, timid, and give the other team too much respect and play more defensive. All of the games we have lost I felt we ‘won’ the second half.
“I am not a fan of moral victories, but no team has dominated us this season,” he added. “We just can’t wait until halftime to realize that we can play with all these top teams.”
Because OPRF has showed a vast improvement since the beginning of the season, the Huskies should make a lengthy run in the playoffs. Emily Gullo is leading the team in scoring with 10 goals on the season. Jessica Luttrell, who missed much of last season with a concussion, has dished out a team-leading five assists and found the net three times.
“[Jessica] is a major reason why Emily Gullo is getting more goals, and she provides a solid attack in the midfield,” said Wright.
Another big surprise for the Huskies this season has been goalkeeper Katy Oldach, who Wright cites as the team’s main leader. “You talk about rising to the challenge … [Katy] has met and exceeded all expectations in the net. She has helped bring this team together. Everyone on our team knows her passion for the game.”
According to Wright, Renata Voci, who was pulled up from the sophomore team to replace the injured Maggie Schurr (broken hand) at sweeper, will see significant playing time in the coming games.