KO 41 41 FT
What a great accomplishment to be playing for the 2016 IHSA State Championship! I am so proud of this group of young men, for their abilities as players, but even more so for the way they carry themselves and for the people that they are. Regarding the soccer part though, this team is something special! Entering tonight’s game, we had 23 wins which is the second highest total in school history; we had scored 80 goals which was also the second highest in school history; we went 11-0 in the MSL campaign, while scoring 43 goals and conceding only 5. We won the Barrington Classic tournament, the Pretzel Invite (Freeport) tournament, won the MSL West, and also won IHSA Regional, Sectional and Super-Sectional titles. Incredible!
So, we end up in the state title match against big, strong Naperville North team. A team that defeated the #1 ranked team in Illinois (Morton) and well as undefeated and offensively potent Bradley Bourbanais in the semifinal. Our boys respected Naperville North, but knew we were a team on a mission as well.
The game began and each team had a tremendous amount of energy and clearly wanted to come out strong. The best chance of the early minutes came on a close range shot from Caleb Orr. He did extremely well to settle the ball and get a shot on frame, unfortunately thought the 6’5″ Naperville North keeper stretched to make the save. Then just a minute later, Naperville North executed one of their trademark long throw-ins in the 8th minute. The Huskies target man went for the ball and dummied the throw, which allowed the ball to bounce into our goal area. Our Broncos looked surprised. Naperville North looked ready. In an instant, we were trailing by a goal. This outcome was especially unnerving to us, as we had explained that this was something they would do.
As has been the case all season long, when we find ourselves in a bit of a hole, we step it up. Things were no different tonight. I was so proud of the way we started playing. Sure, Naperville had segments of the half where they were in rhythm, but we did as well, and we felt like we had a goal in us. We seemed confident and capable. We managed to hit the woodwork twice in the next 25 minutes, but couldn’t quite get the equalizing score before the half, despite some quality attempts.
After the halftime intermission, we stepped back on the gas pedal and immediately tied the game in the first minute. Nash Pirie made one of his incredible yet expected runs down the left flank and into the Huskies goal area. Seeing a crashing near post run from Klaus Pallan, Pirie delivered a perfect pass and Pallan redirected it into the net! The score was even just like that! (Yes, it was just like the night before vs. Conant!)
With the score now tied, each team played their style, hoping for the go ahead goal. Naperville had several free kicks from varied distances. We managed to create chances from the run of play. Michael Blanke had a glorious chance on a back post run, but the ball came in a little hot and with some spin, and he didn’t make solid contact with his attempt. This chance was one that any player would love to have, but also one that maybe gets converted only half of the time due to the action on the ball.
In the second half, the whistle started to blow more frequently against us. Many of the fouls were ill advised challenges or tugs on the shirt. There were others though that were certainly not infractions of any kind. With just under 15 minutes remaining, a 50/50 challenge between a Huskie player and Bronco defender Nash Pirie saw another whistle go against us. In a dangerous spot, just 30 yards off of the endline and from a wide position, Naperville whipped in a superb cross toward our back post. It was met with a fantastic header from a Huskie attacker and the lead was back in favor of our opponents.
In that moment, I find myself thinking that the free kick should NEVER have been awarded. I also know that we NEEDED TO DEFEND BETTER. In the end, and after seeing the goal on video, it was not a foul. Even the TV announcers said that the foul was exaggerated and a bit harsh. That said, it was a great delivery and an equally impressive header goal. Kudos to the Naperville North Huskies.
A bit frustrated, our boys committed a couple more undisciplined fouls one of which saw one of our players sent off for a second yellow card. Again, it was a foul, but never a second caution and an ejection. One of our captains, Zach Carbonara asked the official what the foul was and received only an additional yellow card in response. Just seconds later, Klaus Pallan was issued a yellow card for infringing on a Huskie free kick, when standing nine yards away instead of ten. It was a little silly and unnecessary, and the lack of communication was unfortunate. In the end, Naperville would add an insurance goal with 5 minutes remaining, extending the lead to 3-1 and breaking the spirit of our team.
My final thoughts are of deep congratulations to Coach Jim Konrad and his team for their second state championship for the Naperville North Huskies Soccer program. In addition, I am also still so proud of our players. What a great season and amazing playoff run we went on! Over the last week, I have seen the largest smiles dance across the faces of every one of our players. We made the most of the breakfasts, practices, games and moments. We have so much to be so proud of.
Thank you to each of our players. You are special to me and always will be.
Thank you to all of our parents. The young men you have raised are of the highest character and integrity.
Thank you to our coaching staff, for all of the hours and the energy you give.
Thank you to our athletic trainers, who treated our guys better than ever.
Thank you to our administration, grounds crew, maintenance staff, announcer (Jeff Price!) and video crew.
Thank you to my wife. There is no greater “coach’s wife” in the world!
I am a blessed man, to coach this team and this program, and to live and work in Barrington!
WAY TO GO BRONCOS!! YNWA!!
Naperville North — 8th minute
Barrington — Pallan, Klaus (Nash Pirie) — 41st minute
Naperville North — 66th minute
Naperville North — 75th minute
|9||Klaus Pallan||FWD||64||1||1||1 (41')||0||0||0||0||3||2||1||0||0||0||1||0|
|17||Nash Pirie||DEF||80||1||1||0||1 (41')||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|