It’s always intense when OPRF and Fenwick meet up in any sport, and Friday night’s boys soccer game was no exception.
The Huskies (2-4-1, 0-1) defeated the Friars 2-1 at Oak Park Stadium, scoring first with 20:32 left in the second half. Senior forward Noe Espinosa connected on a pass from senior midfielder Okker Verhagen on the right side and shot it just past Fenwick senior goalkeeper Jacob Peterson.
Peterson battled the entire game for the Friars (3-3), making several key saves in the first half to keep it scoreless. He notched 10 total saves in the game.
Huskies senior goalkeeper Liam Sorensen tallied six saves, including a diving stop with 20 seconds left in the game to preserve the Huskies’ victory.
“We had great goalkeepers (in the game),” said Espinosa. “There was nothing you could do but put it in the perfect spot. It was exciting, that made it a really good game.”
Peterson didn’t feel any pressure, even late in the game when the Friars were still held scoreless.
“I thought our defense played well,” Peterson said. “OPRF is a really fierce attacking team. We have some young defenders and I thought they played great. There’s no pressure on me, I just do my job and I count on my defenders to do their job.”
With 18:22 left in the game, it was Espinosa again with a goal — his third of the season — to put the Huskies in front 2-0. He tipped the ball off of a Fenwick defender into the right side of the net after connecting on a pass from senior forward Sam Dull. Espinosa and the rest of the Huskies, who have scored a total of four goals as a team on the season so far, were glad to get on the board twice in one game in front of their home crowd and against rival Fenwick.
“I think we came out really strong,” Espinosa said. “I love the atmosphere. Against our biggest rivals we came out really hard and scored some goals.”
Friars head coach Robert Watson knew that giving up two consecutive goals was the turning point in the game.
“I thought it was a pretty evenly matched game aside from that five-minute window,” he said. “It started off with a good scoring chance for us that we missed, and you have to give credit to Oak Park for coming back and putting up two quick goals on us. In the end, we just ran out of time.”
The Friars got on the board with 4:50 left in the game as junior midfielder Danny Zawacki shot it in on a play after a free kick by Peterson.
The Friars may have lost this rivalry game, but Peterson said he is still proud of the way his team played in the tough OPRF environment.
“Overall, I’m really proud of (our team),” he said. “We got a goal back and didn’t get shut out. I’m looking forward to hopefully facing them in the state tournament and getting a win.”
The Huskies were happy to get their second win of the season, and they know that this could be the start of the turnaround that they need this season.
“It was really important,” Espinosa said. “We came out strong and put a lot of effort in after losing four-straight games. It was a big win for us.”