The fall sports season in Huntley is always about football and volleyball. The student body flocks to these games in impressive numbers, while other sports are left with stands sparsely populated with parents. However, this year’s boys soccer team could draw a crowd for the first time in years.
This weekend, the boys competed in the Pepsi Showdown, the largest high school boys soccer tournament in the nation, for the first time. The showdown gave the team a chance to play some of the best teams in the Chicagoland area, among which are some of the top-ranked teams in the state.
“Us being underdogs, not even ranked, we really made a name for ourselves,” said junior defender Jakub Rys, one of the captains. “All the games were competitive and physical, which is what we want in every game.”
Entering the tournament, the Raiders held a record of 7-0. The team finished the tournament 2-2 (including accepting a forfeit from Lane Tech due to the CPS teacher strike), with their first loss of the season coming to Lyons Township, the seventh-ranked team in the state, in a tight 3-2 game.
The second loss was suffered in the last 12 seconds of a tight game against Metea Valley.
The first half of the game was scoreless, though the Raiders dominated possession throughout the half, managing to send off three shots on the goal, all unsuccessful. After half-time, Metea Valley came out stronger, scoring the first goal with 13 minutes left in the game on a Huntley mishap.
Huntley was able to respond when senior David Langford’s deflected shot was put in by fellow senior Lucas Baker.
With 12 seconds remaining, Huntley was charged with a foul, and Metea Valley headed in a goal off of the penalty kick to win the game.
“There were some miscommunications between us, and that’s where the two goals were scored,” said Rys.
In the second half, junior Niko Mihalopoulos was helped off the field with an ankle injury to join three other injured Raiders: David Pardo, Manuel Menjivar, and starting goalie Austin Emery, who is out with a concussion sustained in the game against Lyons Township.
“I think today’s game was good,” said junior midfielder Eduardo Gonzalez, Rys’ co-captain. “We stuck to our game plan that Coach [Grabner] gave us. Unfortunately, we lost [because] there were some costly mistakes.”
The Raiders’ record now stands at 9-2 going into conference play on Tuesday, which the team views optimistically.
“I think we’re going to be successful,” said Gonzalez. “And hopefully we win [conference].”
The boys open Fox Valley Conference play on Sept. 18 at Dundee Crown, which holds a 10-1 record.
Photos by Taylor Hilbrant