LAKE FOREST – Colorful. Engaging. Happy. Respectful. Appreciative. In-depth.
Those were just a few of the words that could be used to describe Glenbrook South’s post-game mood on Saturday morning.
And that was just while talking to a veteran scribe from Chicagoland Soccer.
Yes, the Titans made a point to enjoy their 2-0 victory over Lake Forest in the third place game of the North Shore tournament. With all-four tournament games being played at the same time on a chilly, windy and sunless morning, the Titans bounced back from a frustrating semifinal defeat in penalty kicks to Lake Forest Academy on Friday by scoring a goal in each half to defeat the host Scouts on Field 4 at Lake Forest’s West Campus.
Jackson Kogot and Aidan Evans tallied for the Titans (2-1-0), while goalie Michael Falk earned the clean-sheet. Dressed in all-black, Falk set the tone with a stellar save in the middle of the first half.
After the game, several Titans formed a tight circle to celebrate their quality win, making a point to pass out praise to several teammates, most notably to All-Tournament Team selection and sophomore defender T.J. Philips.
Just like he did on the pitch, Kogut sparked the interview session with a big smile and positive energy. The midfielder scored his first goal of the season in the 12th minute.
“It was a corner kick, and I was on the back of the 18 and saw there was a lot of space between their front player on the six and their front post player,” Kogut said before being briefly interrupted by a teammate who interjected “that’s some good content.”
Back to Kogut: “Chris (Vasquez) gave me the assist with a hard pass into the box, and I just kicked it into the front. He gave me a great ball. I didn’t know what to do when I scored. I was just happy. It was amazing, a great result for the boys. We’ve gone through a lot of adversity.”
Glenbrook South senior midfielder Nathan Halpern, a captain, was also a thorn in the side of Lake Forest’s backline all game long. Although he failed to score a goal, his speed and athleticism helped open up scoring opportunities for his teammates.
“I definitely had some chances that I should’ve put away,” Halpern said. “We’re proud of Jackson scoring and Aidan too. Friday was a tough game for us, so we wanted to come here and get third place. We lost two key players, but we have so much depth on this team. I’m happy with that. We have 24 players and everyone can play in the game. There’s no weak link. For myself, I have to put those chances away. I’m super proud of everyone.”
As he wrapped up his interview, Halpern tossed bouquets at Philips.
“I’m super proud of TJ earning All-Tournament Team,” he said. “I don’t think anybody got past TJ this entire tournament. There’s no one who deserves it more than him. He played every minute of every game. He made a game-saving tackle on Friday. I can’t give him enough praise.”
Philips is a player with immense potential due to his skill, size, athleticism, intelligence and work ethic.
“It feels good to get all-tournament,” Philips said. “We all worked hard, and I’m proud of myself. The second half we played better. We have to keep our energy throughout the whole season and keep high intensity.”
Evans, a senior forward, gave his team some breathing room by scoring on a penalty kick midway through the second half. Evans celebrated his goal by running to the nearest corner and doing a forward roll.
“Our heads were down after Friday’s PK loss, but we came out today with a next-man mentality and executed our game plan and got everything done,” Evans said. “Being up 1-0 with an early goal felt nice. We didn’t want to lose today. I went to the corner and celebrated with my boys. I asked them to give me a big hug, and they did.”
Evans asked for a special request in the postgame: “I want to say a shout-out to my mom.”
The Scouts (1-2-0) opened the tourney with a 1-0 win over Highland Park but failed to score for the rest of the tourney. They got a top performance from backup goalie Charlie Engelberg, who took over for injured starter Charlie Walsh (bruised ribs).
“I thought maybe we could’ve taken advantage of the wind in the first half better,” Lake Forest coach Rob Parry said. “Over the course of the three games, we played better each game, but we just struggled to score goals this week. We scored a goal in our first chance and defended that goal well. We have our work cut out to create chances.
“But our passing and movement got better with each game. We’re trending in the right direction even with the loss. Charlie (Engelberg) did a great job.”
Lake Forest senior defender Austin Okada, who was named to the All-Tournament Team, was one of the bright spots for the Scouts.
“It feels good to be all-tournament, but this is a team award,” he said. “I was able to do well only, because I had good teammates backing me up. I’m proud of the defense. The majority of the backline is new. We did a good job as a backline. I’m proud of our entire backline to keeping them held down to one goal and a PK.”
Glenbrook South coach Reggie Lara praised his players for a bounce-back performance following Friday’s tough defeat. The Titans opened up the tourney by defeating defending champion Zion-Benton but played Saturday’s game without two captains. Senior forward Conor Beach, a three-year starter, and senior midfielder Anthony Kifarskis, a two-year starter, both were injured against Lake Forest Academy and had to miss Saturday’s game.
“I thought we did well,” Lara said. “We’re a very young team with only six returnees. It was a lot of growing pains and physical pains. Our goal was to be in the championship and have a good result. Last year we got to the championship and lost to Zion-Benton, so it was good to have a solid result this year against them. On Friday it was a nail-bitter, and we suffered two big injuries to Conor and Anthony.
“They both should be gone for the next few days. Considering that, it’s a next-man mentality. I’m glad we got all of our guys in and some good minutes for all of them. Right now, we’re trying to figure out our lineups and what works. I was encouraged we took a step forward today. We let in three goals on set pieces on Friday, so it was encouraging we scored a goal today on a set piece.
“I’m feeling optimistic about this group. We have a lot of skill and depth. I think we can come up with a ton of different combinations for starting lineups, and opposing teams won’t notice a drop in play.”
GK: Michael Falk
D: T.J. Philips
D: Dennis Alickoli
D: Paul Scherer
D: Matheus Johansson
MF: Chris Vazquez
MF: Jacob Cramer
MF: Nolan Koek
MF: Jackson Kogut
F: Nathan Halpern
F: Aidan Evans
GK: Charlie Walsh
D: Dominick Ziaja
D: Connor Gustafson
D: Austin Okada
D: Kashyap Prasad
MF: Tyler Bernstein
MF: Griffin Werner
MF: Harry Strothman
MF: Connor Phelan
F: Andrew Granado
F: Campell Allan
Chicagoland Soccer Man of the Match: Michael Falk, jr., GK, Glenbrook South
GBS: Kogut (Vazquez), 12’
GBS: Evans (penalty kick), 61’