Fenwick and OPRF soccer eliminated at regionals

Impressive seasons end with lopsided losses

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By James Kay

Sports Editor

Heading into the regional round, Fenwick had high hopes for the postseason. The Friars sported an impressive 15-6-1 record and had their first win against OPRF since 2008 the week before they faced off against Muchin College Prep (13-10-1).

So when Fenwick suffered a 3-0 loss on Oct. 25 to the Mountain Lions, deflating shock was felt around the Priory.

"This wasn't the game we expected to lose," said senior Joe Sedlacek. "I think we went into this with the right mindset and sometimes you get unlucky with a few calls and circumstances that don't go your way. At the end of the day, this was a great season, and it was definitely my best at Fenwick."

In the first five minutes of the match, Fenwick looked like a team that was going to move to the next round. The offense kept the ball in Muchin's side of the field and had one goal negated by an offside foul.

"We created a lot of scoring opportunities in the first half that just didn't go our way," said head coach Craig Blazer. "I thought we had a chance to finish those but we didn't quite put them away."

Those missed opportunities would prove costly for the Friars. The momentum on the offensive end slowly moved in favor of the Mountain Lions who scored on a corner kick with just under 30 minutes left in the half. The corner kick made its way into the box where Muchin senior Isaac Noriega headed the ball in for a 1-0 Mountain Lions' lead.

"That was an uncharacteristic play for us," said Blazer. "We've got to give them credit for the good corner and head. That was probably the turning point for the match. It was back and forth and we had to play catch up after they scored their second goal."

That second goal was set up by a hand-ball penalty on Fenwick. Once again, it was Noriega who finished the possession with a goal in the bottom corner of the net to make the score 2-0, which Blazer described as "a place we hadn't been in a long time. We were still confident about getting back in it and getting that first goal and then building off of that to get to our second goal. But really you have to give them credit. It gets emotional when you are trying to make sure your season doesn't end."

Some of that emotion contributed to the physicality that both teams would play with in the second half. Fenwick came out of halftime aggressive and had a few shots on goal, which ended up in the hands of Muchin's goalie.

Both teams started to get chippy with one another as the match entered its later stages. The Friars tried to find room to operate on offense but couldn't find daylight as the Muchin defense swarmed every loose ball on their end.

The last goal came at the 3:40 mark when Muchin's Cristo Aguirre rocketed a shot from long distance that ended up in the top right corner of the net to complete the victory for the Mountain Lions.

Despite cutting short their season, Sedlacek believes his younger teammates are ready to compete next year.

"I'm going to tell them that they should really appreciate what they have going on here," he said. "We came up just short, but this is just the beginning for them."

OPRF was scheduled to play Kelly High School on Oct. 22, but the Trojans had to forfeit the match due to the Chicago Public Schools teacher strikes. The Huskies traveled to Hinsdale instead, where they lost 3-1 to Hinsdale Central on Oct. 25.

They hadn't given up more than two goals all season despite losing their last two matches before the forfeited match against Kelly. Against Hinsdale Central, they controlled the ball 76 percent of the time but couldn't finish off their possessions.

"The defense actually didn't play bad," said head coach Jason Fried. "They only had eight completed passes the entire match. They were able to make the most of their chances and you have to hand it to them. In an environment like that where it's raining and the ball is going everywhere you have to be ready. For the most part, we did what we wanted to do but that's just how it goes sometimes."  

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