Boys soccer impresses at state

Two minutes and 41 seconds: the time it took for McFarland to score against the Greyhounds. McFarland, who were in the finals for the second year in a row, were the favorites to win the final match of the boys soccer season. 

McFarland out shot the Greyhounds 10-1 in the first half, a tally that ended up 19-5. But the shots themselves don’t matter. It’s the ones that hit the back of the net that do. 

Leland Hanewall
Sajen Hardrath, sophomore, dribbles the ball. The team beat Seymour 2-1 in the semifinals, and then proceeded to defeat McFarland in the finals with the same scoreline.

Shorewood did not lie down after conceding the early goal. Juniors Hopper Planey and Liam Martin scored a goal apiece, which led the team to a 21 victory. Both goals were scored within the last five minutes of the end of both the first and second halves, respectively.

According to Kyle Konkol, varsity head coach, the season was full of similar situations, with the boys proving over and over again their will to keep on playing and not give up.

“The first game of the season, at halftime we were down, and then in that second half the guys showed a lot of the character of a team that was willing to battle even when things weren’t going well,” Konkol said. “To get knocked down and get back up was something that they did again and again over the course of the season. And that showed up again in the championship game, where we went down early, but even when they scored my immediate thought was, ‘We’re going to win this game because we’ve come back from that so many times, where we got knocked down and again got back up.’” 

Ben Lichtenstein, senior, agrees. 

“We’re a competitive team and we never quit, so I think it’s only fitting that we didn’t quit from that point on,” Lichtenstein said.

Having graduated 11 seniors the previous year, the varsity team had a lot of new faces, so they had to establish who they were as a team from day one.

“I would say, from a coaching perspective, our goals were to establish a new team and figure out our style of play and our identity,” Konkol said. “And that came together a lot faster than we thought that it would this year.”

Our goals were to establish a new team and figure out our style of play and our identity … And that came together a lot faster than we thought that it would.

— Kyle Konkol, varsity head coach

According to Konkol, it took one half of one game for coaches and players to begin noticing the potential of the team. 

“I was talking with our coach, and sort of after the second half of the Pius game, which was our first game, was when we started to click a little bit more,” said Paul Fraser, senior. “We didn’t have everybody playing, but we started to get back into that game. I mean, we lost 42, but I think it was 30 at the end of the first half, so we worked our way back into that game. So that’s really when it started for me.”

Leland Hanewall
Austin Gayle, senior and captain, hangs his head. Even after giving up goals, the team continued to fight, showing their character the entire season.

Konkol attributes much of the team’s success to their attitude.

“I would say something that was really good about this year’s team was that we handled success well,” Konkol said. “We balanced our confidence with humility, knowing that we needed to respect whatever opponent we were going against.”

For Liam Martin, junior and captain, a lot of their success also stemmed from the relationships among the team members and the people around them. 

“We have a great group of guys, we always have had, but this [year] we have a special bond,” Martin said. “We’re all really close together off the field and on. It’s just a great team, excellent coaching all around and the fans were amazing this year so that was pretty special.”

For the team, the state-winning goal is a moment that won’t be forgotten any time soon.

“The best moment was when Liam scored and he slid to the fans and then everyone just dogpiled on him,” said Denis Krioutchenkov, sophomore. “I think that was a really good moment for the whole team.”

To score the state-winning goal meant a lot to Martin.

“It’s something you always dream of as a kid,” Martin said. “So it was a dream come true.”

It’s something you always dream of as a kid.

— Liam Martin, on scoring the winning goal

The state game was televised, which was something that the players were not quite used to. 

“My favorite moment of the whole thing was rewatching the game on FoxSports and hearing the commentators,” Lichtenstein said. “Hearing them talk about you is just crazy. And the replays and the angles and watching it like it was a professional game.”

Looking to the future, though Shorewood has not made it to state two years in a row, Martin thinks that next year they can start a streak.

“After this year, anything can happen,” Martin said. “So I’d say for sure [we could win state].”

Obviously, next year’s team won’t look exactly the same as it did this year. But the team hopes that they’ll have established a strong base to improve upon next season. 

“As a team, we definitely wanted to build team character as well as set ourselves up for the next couple years to do well,” Lichtenstein said. “I think we accomplished that too, given that we’re only graduating three people. And while we all were pretty key players, we’ve done a good job working with underclassmen and getting them ready to take on the leadership roles that we took on this year.”

Konkol thinks that the team should enjoy this momentous win for this year, but then get ready to work again next season. 

“That’ll be a new challenge, to figure out how to handle being returning champs,” Konkol said. “We’re 2019 champs, but we’re not 2020 champs until we do it.”