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Boys Soccer Wins Big Conference Matchups

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Ryan Kupiec takes the ball upfield.

Ryan Kupiec takes the ball upfield.

Will Flaherty

Will Flaherty

Ryan Kupiec takes the ball upfield.

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By Noah Shaar
It is rare in the world of sports to find a team with both a dominant offense and defense. So, when in the first six soccer matches of 2016, the boys outscored their opponents 19 goals to 7, surely great things are to be expected for the rest of the season.
The Fenwick Boy’s Soccer Program is following up on a Chicago Catholic League Championship. With many returning players, the team knows what it is like to win, and they do not have any plans of stopping. Captain Ryan Kupiec, star defensive man and a Fenwick senior, said, “With another year of playing, we have a better knowledge of the game, and we really know how to win.”
The Fenwick Friars kicked off their season playing at Reavis High School in Burbank, a southern suburb of Chicago. Reavis was hosting a game for the annual Windy City Classic Tournament. The Friars played a hard fought battle against Lincoln Way West, but the Friars took the loss 1 goal to none. The Friars came out again in a losers’ bracket game, this time facing University High. The game, proving to be another heartbreaker, ended when U High kicked an unfortunate game winning goal from a penalty kick. The Friars were edged out 4 to 3.
Determined to find victory, the boys picked theirs heads up and came back to Reavis. In a close game against TF United, the Friars found that taste of victory they were longing for. Junior Mike Cerceo laced a game winner that put Fenwick ahead 2-1. From then on, the Friars continued to notched ticks in the win column. In a season opener against conference rivals, DePaul Prep, the Friars were masterful with a 7 goal shutout. Kyle Gruska provided the stellar goal keeping. One short of a hat trick, Captain Joe Scanlon scored 2 goals. The fire was ignited and the Friars showed greatness in another conference victory against Providence 8-3.
Leading the offensive charge was junior Taras Shkibara with 2 goals. During the week of September 10, the Friars played in the PepsiCo tournament. Although quieter compared to the last two victories, the Friars put up a “W” with a 1-0 shutout against Steinmetz in the first tournament game. Cerceo notched a decisive winning goal. Concerning the beginning of the season, Coach Rob Watson said, “Our first 3 games exposed our inexperience, and highlighted a number of fundamental mistakes made far too often. We kept our focus on the work each day, and each game our performance improved, and thus results improved.”
This year, the Friars fielded a team that was radically different from last year. Watson reflected on the team’s makeup when saying, “We did graduate a lot of seniors, but returned key players that have varsity experience.” Amongst those key players are the captains Joe Scanlon, Ryan Kupiec, Kyle Gruszka, and Liam White. Scanlon is the corner stone of the Friar offense as he has been a varsity starter since freshman year. On the other side of the soccer pitch is Ryan Kupiec and Liam White, who both run a tight defense. One of the biggest parts of this team’s success is their stellar goalkeeper, Kyle Gruszka, who has saved many potential losses. The captains help keep their team’s dynamic and chemistry which is key to a sport like soccer, where the team is only as strong as their weakest link. Coach Watson highlighted the importance of chemistry, “Chemistry will be key. It is a process. We need to come together as a group, and focus on a singular purpose.”
The season is filled with Catholic Conference match ups, but the game that will be the highlight of the season is the OPRF match up at Fenwick’s new home field at Triton College off 5th & North Ave. In last year’s match up with OPRF, Fenwick suffered a hard loss. The returning players this year are not in any mood to let OP beat them again on October 8th.
A win against OPRF would give the Friars momentum into the IHSA State Playoffs. Last year, the boys fell short after losing in the regional championship to Elmwood Park. Last year’s team was good, but this year’s Friars have the potential to be better or at least Coach Watson thinks so, “I tell the guys each day “This team has a higher ceiling than any team I have had in 10 years, however there is a lot of work to be done in order to reach our potential.”

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Boys Soccer Wins Big Conference Matchups