Entering this season, the Oak Park and River Forest High School boys soccer team figured to be one of Chicagoland’s top programs.

Needless to say, the Huskies have met expectations. They became the top-ranked team in last week’s Chicagoland Soccer’s Top 25 poll and sport a 10-0-1 record.

“It’s a good accomplishment for the program,” said senior forward Easton Bogard, “but it doesn’t mean much if we don’t perform to that level.”

OPRF won the Streamwood Fall Classic championship in grand style on Sept. 16, blanking the host Sabres 5-0. Bogard and Carlo Lissuzzo each scored twice, and Christian Kellogg—filling in for starting goalkeeper Cameron Smith, who’s out due to injury—got the clean sheet.

While being #1 in a poll wasn’t a goal for the program, OPRF coach Jason Fried is appreciative of the honor.

“You take it as recognition that everything you’ve been doing has led to success,” he said. “It’s not a bad thing; it gives you more confidence.”

At the same time, Fried doesn’t want the Huskies to be content. He wants them to keep doing the things that have led to all of this year’s success.

“We want to find ways that make us better as players and as a coaching staff,” Fried said. 

OPRF is led by Bogard, a four-year varsity starter and Indiana University recruit who has a team-high 13 goals. He says the key to the Huskies’ success has been the players buying into the system and staying committed to their style of play, which emphasizes possession of the ball.

“Everyone on the team is really willing to fight for each other,” Bogard said. “But there still needs to be a little more growth in that area if we want to make it far.”

Bogard chose Indiana, a school with a successful soccer history, because he wanted to stay in the Midwest and close to his family.

“Indiana’s been one of the best soccer programs for the last 15 years,” he said. “That’s what I’m in for.”

“Easton’s been a great leader on and off the field,” Fried added. “He’s a special player, and he’s done a great job for us.”

But Bogard’s focus now is helping OPRF reach new heights. The program has never won an IHSA supersectional, coming close two years ago when the Huskies fell on a late goal to Fremd 1-0 at the Barrington Supersectional.

The Huskies also want to win the West Suburban Conference Silver Division, which won’t be easy as rivals York (8th), Hinsdale Central (18th), and Lyons Township (19th) are also in Chicagoland Soccer’s Top 25 poll.

“It’s a tough group that gets you ready for the playoffs,” said Fried, who also mentioned Downers Grove North and Glenbard West as challengers. “There’s a lot of history between the teams, and you’ve got to look at it as a privilege to play them.”

Bogard said OPRF knows the #1 ranking puts a bigger target on its back. But he added that the Huskies are embracing the challenge.

“We can’t think it’s not there; we have to acknowledge it,” Bogard said. “We have to live up to it, not just on the field, but in all aspects.”

OPRF hosts Leyden Township on Sept. 22 as part of Homecoming. The match starts at 5 p.m. and will be followed by the varsity football game with Downers Grove North.

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