No breaks for Fenwick soccer this season

After rocky start, Friars battled back to finish 11-6-3

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Fenwick boys soccer coach Tony Hepburn was hoping his coaching colleagues would understand the circumstances, and cut the Friars a break.

But that wasn't the case when Hepburn was forced to miss the Class AA sectional seeding meeting for the birth of his child a few weeks ago.

"My assistant coach couldn't make it either, and they seeded us No. 15," Hepburn said. "They seeded us behind St. Rita and De La Salle?#34;two teams we beat during the regular season.

"We finished third in the Catholic League, and had some big wins this year but were seeded No. 15. It was tough to take, but we were going to have to play the better teams at some point."

But Hepburn was hoping his team wouldn't have to face the likes of Morton in the regional opener, which was the case on Oct. 18th. The Mustangs cruised to a 6-0 victory to end the Friars' 2005 campaign.

"Morton had a very nice team, and like I said we were going to have to play them at some point," Hepburn said. "No matter where we were seeded, we knew we were going to have a hard time competing in Class AA this year. At Morton, they had 150 kids come out for soccer where we had 30 kids come out."

After getting off to a rocky 3-4-2 start, Fenwick went 8-2-1 in its last 11 games to finish 11-6-3 overall.

"The Willowbrook tournament and the Pepsi Showdown really helped us prepare for our conference season," Hepburn said. "We played some tough teams in those tournaments, and I really think the kids showed a lot of improvement during that stretch.

"We beat teams like St. Charles North, St. Ignatius and Providence, so we were able to compete against the tougher programs. But we also knew we were in a tough sectional this year with teams like Lyons, Morton and Oak Park-River Forest."

Senior forward Nick Harvalis paced the Friars with 16 goals this fall. Hepburn also praised Will Darley, Joe Elpayaa, Marty Dunbar and Matt Collins.

"Will, Joe, Marty and Matt showed a lot of improvement throughout the year," Hepburn said. "They did a great job in the back and in the midfield. They'll all be back next year."

With Harvalis and goalie John Bauer graduating, Hepburn said his obvious concerns for next season are up top and in goal.

"I really don't know who is going to be in goal for us, and we need to find a striker, too," Hepburn said. "A lot of the kids are going to be playing together in River Forest, so that will help them grow together. We'll just have to wait and see who we can put in those spots."

Despite the somewhat rollercoaster season, Hepburn can't wait for the 2006 season to kickoff.

"Coaching high school is different from club," Hepburn said. "I had the experience of coaching high school girls before this season, but coaching boys is different.

"You only have the talent that's in your school, and you have to work with that. It's a challenge, but it's fun, too. I'm looking forward to next year."

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