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Preview story: Bremen, Lemont coaches always worry when teams meet

By Kyle Garmes, 09/08/23, 12:45PM CDT


Lemont will enter its South Suburban Conference Blue Division matchup Saturday at Bremen with a little momentum.

After a league tie and comfortable conference win earlier this week, coach Rick Prangen thinks his team is better than its record shows.

Lemont (2-3-1, 1-0-1) will look for its first win streak of the season when it faces the Braves at 10 a.m.

"We could easily have five wins," Prangen said. "Three of those games we either tied or lost, we were up on them and blew those leads."

Lemont opened the league season with a 4-0 win over visiting Shepard on Sept. 7 and tied 1-1 at Oak Lawn on Sept. 5.

Bremen (2-4-0, 1-2-0) has a bit of momentum. The Braves defeated Tinley Park 5-2 Sept. 7 to earn their first conference win.

Prangen always remains wary of this particular opponent.

"Bremen is still Bremen," he said of the 2022 Blue Division champions. "They're going to have really good, individually skilled players. When they all play together, they're that much more difficult."

Braves coach Tom Piotrowski hopes his team found something in the win over Tinley Park. He was worried early on that his team just wasn't having enough fun. He hopes the good vibes from the victory will carry over.

"I think the kids finished on kind of a high note," he said, "and [Friday], they're looking to just come in and have a good practice."

Sophomore Diego Lagunas has sparked the Bremen so far with six goals on the season, including a hat-trick vs Tinley Park. Piotrowski has used him at forward and on the wing.

Lemont junior forward Tyler Chrisman, a Chicagoland Soccer All-State Watch List player, didn't score vs. Shepard. But he earned high praise from Prangen, who felt he changed the game.

"They had no answer for him really, to be honest with you," Prangen said. "I thought he was the best player on the field. He was dangerous all day. I thought he was the Man of the Match."

The South Suburban Conference races could be up for grabs. Games between the teams in five-team Blue Division and seven-team Red Division count in the standings.

Prangen feels the league’s depth is formidable.

Reavis, which is ranked 16th in the Chicagoland Soccer Top 25, turned heads early after all-state forward Ahmed Dhalai transferred in from fellow Red-side member Richards. The Rams advanced to the final of their Windy City Classic before falling to no. 6 Bloom in their first loss of the season. They came back to tie Oak Forest’s solid Blue Division side 1-1 Sept. 5.

Prangen also feels Eisenhower, which defeated Bremen 4-1, is improved.

"It's hard," he said. "It's not an easy conference."

In Class AA tournament action last season, Lemont was a sectional finalist and Bremen was a regional finalist.

For Prangen, three things stand out as his team tries to remain atop the conference race by getting a result at Bremen.

Most important is Lemont’s work-rate.

"We're not good enough to not outwork teams," Prangen said.

Then, his team needs to avoid unforced errors.

"If a team's going to get a goal on us, they're going to have to earn it," Prangen said. "We can't be the cause of that goal."

Finally, Lemont must score off set pieces. If they don’t "teams are going to be able to hang around," Prangen said.

From Bremen’s perspective, Piotrowski feels like every game against Lemont, the league runnerup last season and champ in the fall 2021 season, ends up being a good one.

"We remind our kids that anything can happen on any given day," Piotrowski said. "It doesn't matter what the other team's record is. ... Especially in this conference, anything can happen."