Boys’ soccer hits stride at the right time, wins State Championship

The boys’ varsity soccer team came out victorious in the IHSA State soccer championship on Nov. 8 after beating Normal Community 1-0.

The team qualified for the State Championship after defeating a number of high-ranked, difficult opponents. In the sectional final, Central faced off against J. Sterling Morton High School, the team ranked first in the state of Illinois and ranked number 15 nationally. Despite losing to Morton earlier in the season, the Red Devils defeated them the second time around, 3-2.

“That Morton team is one of the best I’ve played in my past three years here,” said Jim Walker, junior midfielder. “We knew it would be a challenge but we did believe we could win.”

Such a monumental victory set the tone for the rest of the team’s postseason.

“We worked hard on our set pieces in practice,” Walker said. “We utilized those to score two of our goals [against Morton].”

The Red Devils, who struggled with consistency throughout the regular season, peaked at the right time in the playoffs as they inched closer to State.

“I honestly don’t think [Morton] was expecting us to come out so ready to play,” said Bryan Loebig, junior midfielder. “Our team hit our stride right at the right time.”

After such an accomplished win, the Red Devils traveled to Lewis University for the Super Sectional game against Naperville North.

“North was a really hard-working team,” Loebig said. “The win definitely didn’t come easy.”

Central took the Naperville North Huskies to penalty kicks, after 80 minutes of play and two overtimes resulted in a 0-0 tie. Wes Bergevin, senior goalkeeper, saved a final penalty kick to secure the Devils’ win.

“The victory was awesome,” Walker said. “Wes came up big for us and we were able to get the win.”

The Super Sectional win over the Huskies took the Devils to the State semifinal, where the team played Fremd High School. After relentless defensive pressure from the Devils, led by senior captain Evan Floersch, the Red Devils won the game 2-1.

In the State Final, Central faced Normal Community, a team that was undefeated the entire season. The game came down to the wire until the Devils scored a late goal to win 1-0. Central players trusted their teammates and were able to finish the game strong.

“Our offense struggled a bit early on in the game,” Loebig said. “I give a lot of credit to our defense for never letting up and giving us chances to tally a score.”

“It feels surreal. Everything we worked for came together and it feels so good and extremely rewarding,” Floersch said.

The State Championship marked soccer’s first title in 39 years.