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Notebook: Stevenson

By Mike Garofola, 09/06/23, 9:45AM CDT


What a year 2022 was for Stevenson boys soccer.

The Patriots marched to a Class 3A third place finish thanks to an ultra-talented and deep roster that featured nine seniors in its first 11, all of whom contributed en route to a remarkable 22-1-3 final record.

"It was a group of young men who played for each other, the program and always with integrity and honor, which is something we continue to ask of our players this year, and they have," said manager PepeJon Chavez, who has a 53-5-7 record with the club after it claimed its third-consecutive championship trophy at the 37th-annual Jim Wolter Titan Invitational last weekend at Glenbrook South and posted a 2-1 come-from-behind home win over Carmel on Tuesday (Sept. 5).

The glow of last fall remains for the Patriots, who are 7-0-0 and ranked eighth in the Chicagoland Soccer Top 25.

"It was just an amazing season we all were fortunate to be a part of, kind of a humbling experience in my opinion, but one I will always remember," said senior Ameer Takieden, who along with teammate Henry Chen have been hard-working, four-year varsity players.

"Both have been unbelievable men in our program,” Chavez said. “Incredible student-athletes who have made academics a priority, yet have put in the work with us.”

"The bar is always set high here at Stevenson when it comes to academics,” said Chen. “It is very important to strive to be our best in the classroom and our best when called upon on the field."

Takieden and Chen shared the Chicagoland Soccer Man of the Match honor following the Patriots 2-0 victory over Prospect in the final Wolter Titan pool play contest Aug. 31.

Teammates Jack Bacher and senior Alex Huelsman, two more of the few holdovers from a year ago, were honored in the same manner after the Patriots beat Mt. Carmel 1-0 to claim the tournament title Sept. 2.

"We're a new and different team from front-to-back, but we have a nice core of players back with us," offered Bacher. “We all believe in each other and feel like we can have the same success as last year if we work hard and support each other.”

The junior was the Patriots super-sub last season. He scored five goals and provided a lovely assist on Filip Janda's overtime game-winner against Fremd (2-1) in a Buffalo Grove Sectional semifinal at rainy Grant Blaney Stadium.

Janda bagged another game-winner a few days later against Waukegan to send the Patriots into the supersectional final against New Trier.

"We're obviously a much younger team than last year, but the young guys are hungry and want to make their mark and find their spot at the varsity level," said Huelsman, who has taken over for the Patriots all-state central defender Steve Nyc. “I feel like we'll have the chance to be a good, solid team this year.

"Those are big shoes to fill with (Nyc) gone, but with each game I am feeling more confident in the back. And I have great guys back there with me."

The defending league champion opens North Suburban Conference play when it hosts Lake Zurich at 7:15 p.m. Thursday.

"It's a great group of young men we have,” Chavez said. “They like training and playing together. They have done well when we throw a lot of different things at them, and it's really important to each of them to be at their best while representing Stevenson soccer and its community."