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Notebook: Addison Trail, Leyden

By Mike Garofola, 09/07/23, 10:45AM CDT


Despite being geographically 10 miles from each other: the annual Addison Trail and Leyden encounter is much like an English Premier League Derby. Both managers have a long friendship together and their clubs usually put on an entertaining 80 minutes when they meet in West Suburban Conference Gold Division play.

This was the case Tuesday night in Northlake when the two gave a big crowd plenty of exciting football with the home-side Eagles earning a 4-2 victory.

"Win, or lose, I always look forward to playing Ryan (Dini, Addison Trail manager), because of our friendship, and the fact that his teams are well-coached and talented, which means, more than likely, it will be a hard-fought match right until the very end," said Leyden manager Mark Valintis.

"Ryan and I go back to my time teaching at Addison Trail between 2001-2003," continued Valintis. "He played on some very good soccer and basketball teams there when I was the freshman soccer coach.

"(Ryan) is a great guy. Addison Trail has two great coaches with him and his assistant Angel Vega. Together they do so much for the players in their program."

Leyden’s victory is its second consecutive over the Blazers. Last year they won 4-2 in a shootout after a 2-2 score in regulation and overtime.

"All I remember is how exciting that game was last year, and how great it was to beat one of our biggest rivals," said Eagles senior Ariel Diaz, who along with teammates Angel Perez and Fabian Rodriguez proudly wear the captains’ armbands.

Diaz played the six magnificently and scored the first half goal that leveled the game at 1-1. His wonderful play along with an impressive resume in the classroom helps him stand out.

Diaz is a member of the National Honor Society and holds honors in Social Studies and Spanish. He has his eye on a college degree in electrical engineering.

"Academics are very important to me, as is soccer,” Diaz said. “My hope is to play in college next year - maybe a program like Dominican or North Central - somewhere close to home. But I'll keep my options open for something farther from home."

This Eagles season-opening victory in league play moves them to 4-2-0 overall, the same as the Blazers.

"Fabian (Rodriguez) and Duvan Trujilo have really played at a high level thus far,” Valintis said. “Rafa Nozka has been the guy in the midfield that does so many of the little things necessary for us to succeed,

"Our ball movement off the ball has been terrific. The guys are releasing the ball quickly, not overdribbling, and we're looking to make those dangerous passes more often, rather than just play the easy ball back."

Addison Trail was scorching hot in advance of the league contest, outscoring its competition 21-6. Joel Cruz-Alvarez, Daniel Lupa and Chris Ortega accounted for 14 goals between them.

"We've scored a lot of goals here in the early going,” Dini said. “Our team speed has been a factor in getting behind the defense, and we'll continue to work on improving our passing combinations in the next couple of weeks.

"I am really happy with the progress that we've made over the past couple of weeks, and overall, our defending has been so much better thanks in part to seniors Daniel Molina and Jose Delgado.

"Those two guys have been consistent defenders for our backline and have provided great leadership, while helping us stay organized.

"Daniel, and Jose have the ability to play different positions all along the back, and it has helped us adjust our game plans depending on what our opponent is doing offensively."

The Blazers finished third overall recently in their Joe Novy Classic with the aforementioned trio named to the all-tournament team.

"We have a team of 20 players with six sophomores, and we've really been focusing on team building drills, and coming together as a group," Dini said.

"I have a lot of respect for Mark. (We) always look forward to playing (Leyden), and we know that we'll be in for a good, hard-fought game, just like so many before this one have been."