Being ranked #1 in the Chicagoland Soccer Top 25 Poll means the Oak Park and River Forest High School boys soccer team can expect a strong effort from opponents it faces.
So far, however, the Huskies are faring well, with three victories and two draws since attaining the top ranking the week of Sept. 10.
On Sept. 22 before a large crowd at Oak Park Stadium, OPRF played to a 0-0 draw against visiting Leyden.
“We didn’t have it all today,” said OPRF coach Jason Fried. “But Leyden is a good team, and I think the tie is a fair result. It was back and forth, and we both had our chances.”
After starting slowly, the Huskies (11-0-2) gradually picked up their play and created two excellent scoring chances in the first half. But the first chance, by Bryce Richards, narrowly missed the right post of the net. Later, Diego Zarate’s shot hit the crossbar.
In the second half, OPRF goalkeeper Christian Kellogg came up big with 15 minutes left, diving to his right to stop a shot by Angel Perez of Leyden (8-4-1).
Just over two minutes later, the Huskies’ best scoring opportunity was turned away when Richards fired a rocket toward the left corner of the net, only to be denied by Eagles’ goalkeeper Andres Salgado.
“We’ve got to play at a really high tempo every day; that’s what I take from this,” Fried said.
On Sept. 19, OPRF pulled out a dramatic 4-3 home victory over Hinsdale Central on an Easton Bogard goal with a second left in the first overtime. The goal was the capper on Bogard’s hat trick.
“That was a real high-energy game,” Fried said. “We were down three different times but kept coming back.”
OPRF participates in the Great River Classic, Sept. 29-30 at the TBK Sports Complex in Bettendorf, Iowa.
Fenwick has had a relatively solid season with gradual improvement despite a schedule loaded with quality opponents.
On Sept. 21, the Friars welcomed Marmion Academy to the Priory Campus in River Forest. Fenwick’s defense held strong despite being under constant pressure from the Cadets, but with 10 minutes left, a shot by Marmion’s Giovanni Magana beat Friars’ goalkeeper Dom Ballarin. That was the only goal in Fenwick’s 1-0 defeat.
“Marmion’s a good team,” said Fenwick coach Craig Blazer. “Our guys defended really well and our effort was outstanding. If we learn from this, we’ll be fine for future games.”
Ballarin, a sophomore, was a huge bright spot for the Friars (6-4-1), making 11 saves.
“Dom’s been very consistent and a big part of our success,” Blazer said. “He’s worked very hard and learned a ton. Everyone’s got a tremendous amount of trust in him.”
Blazer feels Fenwick is in a good place at this point in the season. He likes that the Friars find little ways to continue developing.
“We’re all very encouraged with what we’ve done,” said Blazer, “but I believe we can do a little more.”
Fenwick returns to the Priory for matches with St. Ignatius (Sept. 28) and Loyola Academy (Sept. 30).