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Game story: Gallun volleys North Shore Country Day past Latin ​​​​​​​

By Bill McLean, 08/30/23, 9:15PM CDT


Junior forward’s tally yields 1-0 ISL win, measure of revenge

WINNETKA — Henry Gallun waddled but he didn’t fall down Tuesday afternoon.

In fact, the North Shore Country Day junior forward kept his balance and kept on swaying and short stepping after scoring the game-winner in the Raiders’ 1-0 defeat of visiting Latin at Skokie Playfields.

Gallun mimicked Miami Dolphins wideout Jaylen Waddle’s fun-loving touchdown celebration on a soccer pitch, and he would’ve fit right in with a doddering pack of penguins. Gallun’s impromptu dance show was almost as entertaining as his electric tally.

“Beautiful goal,” North Shore Country Day coach Kyle Jones said after the highly competitive Independent School League win, which avenged a 1-0 loss in a Class A Cristo Rey St. Martin Sectional final last fall.

“Henry is quality, so smart,” he added. “He’s terrific, with college soccer in his future.”

Gallun’s goal occurred in the 57th minute in breezy, pleasant conditions. Senior mate and co-captain Daniel Becker — coming off a hip injury — started the scoring sequence with a shot that banged off the middle of the crossbar. Raiders junior forward Benjamin Rodzynek was the last to touch the ball before Gallun half-volleyed it from near the top of the 18.

“The ball bounded toward me,” Gallun said. 

Gallun’s well-struck, 22-yard shot soared over Latin senior goalkeeper Josh Goldhaber (four saves, all in the first half) and also netted him Chicagoland Soccer Man of the Match honors.

“Great shot,” Romans coach Andrew Sanchez said. “We needed to get a clear there. We lost this game, a rivalry game, because we didn’t match their intensity.”

Talented Latin senior midfielder Miguel Fernandez felt his side had enjoyed a decided advantage in possession in each half.

“For one minute, maybe less, we turned it off,” he admitted. “That allowed North Shore to score.”

North Shore Country Day improved to 3-1-0 overall, 2-0-0 in the ISL, while Latin’s Romans slipped to 0-2-1, 0-1-0. 

The hosts were three days removed from finishing third in the four-team Don/Raider Cup in Winnetka.

Last week’s hot weather forced the cancellation of two rounds of the round-robin tournament. A blind draw matched them against eventual winner and co-host Notre Dame in a semifinal. They battled in the 3-1 Cup semifinal loss on Aug. 25 without the services of Becker (injury) and Gallun (illness).

“I thought long and hard about that loss over the weekend after watching film of it,” Jones said on Tuesday. “Notre Dame is a very good team, and we were missing two strong players. Today we dug in deep, stuck in there.

“I liked how we battled and competed.”

Raiders senior keeper and co-captain Aram Dombalagian already has three shutouts before Labor Day. On Tuesday, his five-save day included four stops after intermission. Gusts in his face failed to take the starch out of his goal kicks and punts.

Dombalagian’s backs in front of him had his back — and then some. Senior co-captain Smith Flickinger owns more than a cool name; his hustle and fine defense extinguished threat after threat Tuesday.

“Our best leader,” Gallun said of Flickinger. “Part of what makes Smith such a good leader is how vocal he gets during games.”

Certain things have to be said, sometimes firmly and harshly, in the heat of battle. Leaders are invaluable coaches on the field, especially in a timeout-less sport such as soccer. Flickinger, for one, isn’t afraid to shout orders and reminders to his teammates in the heat of battle.

“I’m a nice guy off the field, and my teammates know and understand that I can’t be that kind of guy when we compete,” Flickinger said.

Raiders junior Luke Hansen, normally a forward, played right center back for the first time Tuesday. But the team-first athlete looked right at home in foreign terrain.

“Luke made good choices today,” Jones noted. “He learned a lot in one hour of practice (on Monday) as a first-time center back. Quick learner. He told me, ‘Wherever you need me to play, put me there.’”

North Shore Country Day defenders Kyle Banner and Thatcher Smith also played integral roles in the victory.

“We played angry as a defense, with grit, a lot of grit,” said Flickinger, who appeared relieved that the memory of last fall’s playoff loss to Latin can finally begin to fade.

At the other end, Raiders co-captain and senior forward Leif Steele was active and, as usual, always willing to join the fray. He and freshman reserve Kaeden Ackley nearly combined on a second half score. 

Returnee Becker put on quite a display during a number of rushes, using his speed and sound dribbling to enliven the hosts’ offense. He took more shots than anyone else did in the 80 minutes and almost found the net off a feed from senior midfielder Ricardo Gonzalez late in the second half.

“That no. 7 has great touch,” Sanchez said of Becker. 

Latin, which lost nine seniors to 2023 graduation, was sparked by Pomona (Calif.) College commit and senior defender Charlie Leonard and brothers Miguel Fernandez, a senior midfielder, and Diego, a sophomore midfielder, fueled the Romans.

Leonard played fearlessly, and the Fernandez brothers showed a potent combination of speed and more than a few technical skills.

“They have good chemistry, family chemistry,” Sanchez said. “You can’t teach that. As for Charlie, he’s our best defender, but we pushed him up to be a factor on offense. He’s coachable, and I’m excited to see what he’ll do at the next level.”

Latin took six corner kicks to North Shore Country Day’s zero. But corners took a back seat Tuesday to Gallun’s goal and ensuing jig.

North Shore Country Day continues its league schedule when it travels to meet University (Chicago) on 6 p.m. Thursday. Latin hosted Northridge on Wednesday in another Independent School League matchup.

Sanchez, a former Geneva midfielder and Latin’s eighth-year coach, helmed the program at Gordon Tech before and after it became DePaul Prep. … The soccer pitch at Skokie Playfields is a tricky venue, especially for visitors. It’s smaller than most and is situated right next to a field that is used for field hockey and football. Jones and a Latin player each had to pick up a field hockey ball that rolled onto the pitch in the first half of Tuesday’s game. “It’s small and the lines are hard to read,” Sanchez said. “Tight field,” Miguel Fernandez said. “Tough place to play.” … Latin eliminated North Shore Country Day in each of the past two Class A postseasons but that streak has already ended. The Romans’ success in 2022 got them promoted to Class AA status for the next two seasons. … Little brother Diego Fernandez has received advice from his big brother, Miguel. “I’ve told him to be confident at all times and to never be nervous,” Miguel said. The youngster, clearly, has been heeding the words.

Starting lineups

GK Josh Goldhaber
D Charlie Leonard
D Diego Delira
D Asher Schenk
D Quinn Healy
D Griffen Snyder
MF Miguel Fernandez
MF Diego Fernandez
MF Odin Gill
F Quinlan Smith
F Cole Silverman

North Shore Country Day
GK Aram Dombalagian
D Luke Hansen
D Thatcher Smith
D Smith Flickinger
D Kyle Banner
MF Kai Zavala
MF Razaan Ghazi
MF Henry Gallun
F Daniel Becker
F Leif Steele
F Benjamin Rodzynek

Chicagoland Soccer Man of the Match: Henry Gallun, jr., MF, North Shore Country Day

Scoring summary

First half
No scoring

Second half
North Shore Country Day — Gullen (Rodzynek), 57’