Evanston’s soccer wake-up call came earlier than usual on Tuesday.
But the Wildkits finally awoke from their sleep in time to easily advance to the Class 3A regional championship game scheduled for Friday at Leyden High School.
Evanston eliminated Von Steuben 4-0 in a regional semi-final game that started at 4pm, hours earlier than the jerseys are used to playing – or even practicing. Last but not least, it served as a wake-up call for the title game on Friday – also scheduled for 4 p.m.
Regional and section hosts are allowed to set their own schedules and Evanston and Von Steuben played the first game of a double header on Tuesday. In the second competition, Lane Tech, # 8, ousted Leyden 2-1 to earn the right to challenge top seeded Evanston on Friday.
According to head coach Franz Calixte, the early start time, the fact that none of the ETHS players ever took part in a post-season game and the additional pressure that belongs to the No. 1 placed in a section at the school played a role.
“Maybe we had some butterflies,” said Calixte after his side scored three goals in the last 13 minutes to secure the win. Sebastian Leon scored two of these goals within three and a half minutes on the clock.
“We didn’t bring our A game with us today. Maybe that was our C game. I’m just glad we got that out of the way. Afternoon games are tough when you’re not used to them. This was good for acclimatizing and hopefully we’ll get used to it by Friday.
“Maybe we had butterflies, or maybe there was a lack of urgency because they were able to beat teams at that level (bottom seed) without having to go 400 mph to win. But that’s a habit that we need to get rid of. It’s not a good habit. “
Evanston’s efforts really could not be questioned. After all, the Wildkits created an astonishing number of corner kick opportunities – 16 times a count.
The bad news? You didn’t hit a single one of these dead ball chances.
“We don’t get consistent services, we don’t get consistent runs (to the goal), and we don’t get urgency from them at these corners. I think we hit maybe in a corner all year long, ”Calixte explained. “We worked on it all year. But I don’t know if they take it for granted if they think it’ll be easy because otherwise the game might have been a goal, but we’ve been trying to answer that question all year.
“Dead balls are so important in the postseason. We have to do better. “
Evanston broke a goalless cul-de-sac with the No. 17 Panthers when co-captain Will Travis ricocheted off a heel shot that slipped past Von Steuben goalie Jon Saenz at close range. Saenz had stopped Travis’ first attempt before Evanston took the lead in the 21st minute. The winner didn’t hit again until Leon in 57th. He added an unassisted goal just minutes later and the kits closed the gate when Brian Maldonado, a newly promoted runner-up, scored his first goal of the year with a tough one Shot that ricocheted off the goalkeeper’s hands.