The Oak Park and River Forest High School boys soccer team’s postseason run came to an end Nov. 2 as Fremd High School’s Eli Schoffstall scored off a turnover with about two minutes left in regulation to hand the Huskies (19-4) a 1-0 loss in the IHSA Class 3A Barrington Supersectional.
“It was a back-and-forth game. Fremd is a great team,” said OPRF coach Jason Fried of the Vikings, considered to be the top-ranked team in Illinois. “They had a great first 25-30 minutes, but I thought we regained momentum as the game went on. They stole the ball late and had a great finish; that’s the way soccer goes.”
The Huskies’ winning percentage of .826 was the best in program history.
“They earned it through their hard work,” he said. “It’s a great thing.”
Sophomore Easton Bogard tied OPRF’s single-season record for goals with 29. He recorded a hat trick in the Huskies’ 3-0 win against Evanston Township High School on Oct. 30 in the New Trier Sectional final.
OPRF also had a terrific defense in front of senior goalkeeper Clark Turk, who Fried said made a big improvement in his game with assistance from goalkeeper coach Mike Dolan.
“One thing that I give Clark credit for is that he worked so hard on strengthening his weaknesses,” he said. “By the end of the year, he was dominant in the box, and he was huge for us moving on. It shows when you put mind to something and work at it, you improve, and that’s what Clark did.”
Turk and his fellow seniors may have set new standards for OPRF going forward thanks to their hard work and dedication.
“Our seniors did a great job,” said Fried. “Their resiliency and willingness to adapt to different styles of play was huge.”
Though the seniors will be missed, Bogard headlines a strong group of returnees who Fried believes can take the next step now that the Huskies have removed a huge program barrier — winning a sectional title. OPRF’s sectional title this year is the Huskies’ first since 1996.
“We’ll be more confident than ever because we’ve now won a sectional,” Fried said. “It’s been hard with so many good teams, but now these guys know what it takes. Every coach and player wanted to get better at what they do. We’re not satisfied because I wish we were playing [in the state semifinals], but at the same time I’m grateful for the success with this group of players.”
Friars fall in sectional final
Fenwick High School nearly joined OPRF in reaching the IHSA supersectional round, but lost 4-3 to top-seeded Niles Notre Dame in the Class 2A Speer Sectional final Oct. 29.
“We had a lot of confidence against Notre Dame, having tied them during the regular season,” said Fenwick coach Craig Blazer. “It was a fantastic game and we left it all out there. We had some outstanding play and in a way it was one of our best games of the year.”
The Friars (10-11-4) rallied from a 2-0 deficit to tie the match in the second half with goals from Ryan Bero and Jack Powers. But with less than 90 seconds left in regulation, the Dons’ Trevor Johnson scored the game-winner to end the Friars’ hopes.
Bero and Powers were named to the all-sectional team.
“Every year is a different challenge,” he said. “We tried to get everyone on the same page, and at the end, they did a wonderful job of giving us a chance to make a deep run in the playoffs.”