The foundation of this season’s OPRF soccer team resides between two posts and in front of a net.
Sam Euler, who recently helped the Chicago Fire Academy Juniors win a national championship, enters his final high school soccer season as a Huskie. According to OPRF head coach Paul Wright, the 6-foot, 160-pound Euler is currently mulling over several full-ride scholarships from some big time colleges. Not only is he a prized commodity to the team in the net, but he’s a vital component when it comes to team organization and inspiration.
“Sam is the rock of the team,” says Wright of his star goalkeeper who tallied six shutouts last season and finished with a 1.13 goals against average.
“You have to be a darn good goalie to win a national championship and he has done that. He’s also in tune with everything that is going on on the field and not afraid to speak up. His leadership skills will come in handy this season.”
Euler, along with defensmen Kelly Foran and Zach Wiegel, and forwards Stephen Golz, Elias El Metennani and Ryan Huettel are the only starters returning from a team that went 16-7-1 last season. Though they may be few in numbers, those returning bring an extensive amount of experience to the team this season. Foran, a senior who is also considering a few scholarship offers, was a member of the Fire Academy Super Y League. Wiegel and Stephen Golz both started as sophomores on varsity last season. El Metennani played club soccer for Eclipse, a well known traveling soccer organization, and Huettel is a three-year varsity starter.
But with top scorer Jordan Golz now at Wheaton College, there is sure to be several new faces roaming the field this season.
Wright was extremely encouraged by the turnout at tryouts last week. Well over 50 freshmen and over 30 sophomores competed for roster spots.
“It’s the highest number for soccer since my first year as head coach,” says Wright, who is now entering his sixth season with a 70-34-13 career coaching record. “That amount of turnout is wonderful, but the only downside is we had to do a fair amount of cuts.”
Wright will have plenty of young talent to plug into open spots on varsity. Midfielder Mike Bower and forwards Gian Luca Locasto and Thomas Lamm are expected to contribute from the start.
Lyons Township and Hinsdale Central are again expected to be quite competitive in the West Suburban (Silver) Conference. Wright said he’s looking to improve on last season’s third place finish and make some headway in some early tournaments.
“Our goal is to have all the players in the right spots and the team working as one by at least the Pepsi Showdown Tournament in just a few weeks,” said Wright. “You get things going on the right foot at that tournament and it sets the tone for the rest of the season.”
Along with the always competitive Pepsi Tournament, one game the Huskies will for sure be marking on their calendars is an Oct. 1 showdown with cross-town rival Fenwick. The game will be played under the lights at Oak Park Stadium with a 7 p.m. start time.
The Huskies were scheduled to begin the season last night (Aug. 25, after deadline) at the Leyden Tournament against Riverside-Brookfield. They’ll host St. Ignatius in the home opener at Oak Park Stadium on Monday at 5:30 p.m.