As would be expected in a sectional championship game, especially in one of the deeper sectionals in the state, today’s game matched up two of the best teams from the 2016 season; Libertyville, the 2015 IHSA State Champions were always going to be a tough squad to face, against our Broncos, who are definitely having one of the best seasons in school history, and certainly the best since the 2007 state champion season. The game would not disappoint those who came to see a high quality match.
Early on, our Broncos endured a great deal of pressure from the Wildcats, mostly through free kicks and a few series of throw in and corner kicks. There were definitely a few nervous moments there, and a few huge plays required from GK Alex Ruffolo and his teammates, but as we have seen happen many times this year, we again rose to the occasion and managed to do just enough to weather the storm.
Eventually, the match saw our boys play a good amount of composed soccer, as we would expect and hope for. Considering the opponent though, it was a great sign for our side. The back line of Hudson Walsh, Josh Coulter, John Gadbois, and Nash Pirie did especially well in picking out moments to play short, higher possession passes… while also mixing in a number of direct balls targeting our front line. The midfield group, provided lots of high quality minutes again from Gio Guarnero, Zach Carbonara and Enrico Ruffolo, as well as huge contributions from Kai Sebens, Kyle Owen and Connor Delahunt.
As the game went on, as has been another trend for 2016, we again saw our game get stronger and stronger, and assert ourselves more and more as each minute went by. At halftime, the team was praised for their defensive efforts, especially in transition, and we discussed the need to have that same sense of urgency when transitioning forward into attack.
Two minutes into the second half, a committed and determined run into the Libertyville goal area saw Caleb Orr get taken down and the Broncos were awarded a penalty kick. Klaus Pallan, as cool as the inside of a pumpkin, stepped up and provided us with the 1-0 advantage.
After the goal, our team continued to execute the game plan we had set forth with. Even when Libertyville eventually switched their alignment to a more high pressing 3-4-3 system, our guys managed to handle the pressure. Pallan, Jordan Fermin and Michael Blanke did a terrific job providing a high level of energy in pressing up front, with Coach Steib especially pleased with the fresh legs and determined effort of Fermin. As at the beginning, in the final moments there were a couple of close calls, when Libertyville was able to whip serves into the box and get on the end of them as well. Fortunately for us, the Libertyville players weren’t allowed a good enough chance for them to tie the game!
Thankfully, this tale of two great teams went our way today! Our team played so hard, and gave so much in order to earn the win. They have much to be proud of! We now advance to Tuesday night’s IHSA Super-Sectional match, at HOME against the Evanston Wildkits at 7:00pm. SEE YOU THERE!!
GO BRONCOS!!! YNWA!!
– Pallan, Klaus (PK /Caleb Orr) — 42nd minute