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Game story: Timothy turns tide with 3-straight goals, takes down Wheaton Academy

By Patrick Z. McGavin , 10/23/23, 3:45PM CDT


Late 1st half goal ties match, sparks visitors to 3-1 victory

WEST CHICAGO — A very late first half goal changed everything.

In the latest iteration of the proud and magnetic soccer rivalry between private school powers Timothy and Wheaton Academy, not a single player is likely to forget the end of the first half.

Wheaton Academy dominated the run of play and largely wrote the narrative for how the game was played.

One play altered the momentum, and swung the tide.

Off a huge sideline throw in from massive Hendrick DeVries, lanky midfielder Timothy Nulty played the perfect reverse header flick for a stunning Timothy goal in the 40th minute.

Just 12 seconds remained on the first half clock. And for the final 40 minutes and 12 seconds of the game, Wheaton Academy was never the same.

Timothy parlayed two goals in a two-minute second half flurry into a 3-1 victory in the Class AA Wheaton Academy Regional championship Saturday night.

“You give up a goal late in the first half like we did, and that is really rough to come back from,” Wheaton Academy midfielder Scotty Murray said.

“They had that fire in them the rest of the second half that I wish we had more of.”

The Trojans  16-6-0) not only reversed the outcome of a 2-1 defeat against the Warriors on the same field Sept. 23, Timothy also vanquished its own ghosts.

“This is a really hard and tricky field to play on, and I don’t know that we have ever won here in the history of Timothy,” Trojans’ forward Caleb Bode said.

“It was a completely different game in the second half, and we were able to make those final-third runs.”

Timothy will play top-seeded Boylan (16-3-3) in a sectional semifinal Tuesday at St. Francis.

Timothy has now won eight in a row since a 1-0 loss against 2022 Class A state runnerup Althoff at the Great River Classic in Bettendorf, Ia., on Sept. 29.

Midfielder Cooper Rainone scored the game-winner Saturday in the 57th minute off a redirect from midfielder Caleb Hoekstra off another big throw-in from DeVries.

At 6-foot-3, De Vries utilized his size and length both efficiently and tactically.

“He always gets a great throw into the box every time. I saw their no. 14 (Mason Brooke), and I thought I could get past him,” Rainone said.

“I just put my foot through the ball, and it worked out.”

Hoekstra followed in the 59th with the backbreaking follow-up score.

The third goal also originated off a throw-in from Hendrik DeVries, who earned the Chicagoland Soccer Man of the Match distinction for his outstanding play and pair of assists.

Wheaton Academy (13-9-3) pondered what might have been, mulling the missed chances, bad luck and sharp play of Timothy keeper Peter Buikema that prevented a greater first half advantage.

Warriors forward Alex Moncau blasted a left-footed rocket ball that hit off the far post in the 16th minute.

Freshman midfielder Brooke, the son of head coach Jeff Brooke, had a header deep in the box in the 34th minute that Buikema made a great leaping stab on.

“Credit to Timothy,” Jeff Brooke said. “They hurt us with the long throw-in. Every one of their goals came off the throw-in, or a variation of it.

“Their goalkeeper was nice, and they kind of had the run of play during that second half.”

For the third-straight year, the two perennial powers confronted each other in the state tournament.

Two years ago, Wheaton Academy defeated Timothy 6-1 in the Class A state semifinals as part of its state championship run.

Timothy finished fourth that season.

Last year, Timothy won 2-1 in the Class A third place game.

The superb state tournament play meant both programs were elevated to Class AA status by the IHSA’s success formula for private schools.

Due to the vast geographical distances of schools represented, the St. Francis Sectional has a bifurcated format with two separate eight-team sub-sectionals.

Timothy was the third seed, and Wheaton Academy no. 4 of Sub-sectional A.

The intense conference rivalry between the teams moved from the Metro Suburban Blue Division to the brand new Chicagoland Christian this season.

“It is always a battle between us,” Murray said. “Those are good guys, and they are also a Christian school.”

Wheaton Academy had the wind in the first half, and utilized it brilliantly, playing long balls, pushing numbers forward in the run of play and creating multiple chances through corner and free kicks.

Midfielder Cuyler Finnegan, the fourth brother in his family to play for the Warriors, was at the center of the activity, creating repeated service chances in the box.

“It was great coming up through the program, learning from them and having them tell me everything I needed to know, and seeing the accomplishments they made,” Finnegan said.

His creativity and involvement set the early tone for the Warriors. 

“I thought in the first half, our defense did a great job of always trying to move the ball, and not just kick it out,” he said.

“I thought our wingers were moving, and they’d cut back and get the ball. That was exactly what we trained for, and what happened in the first half.”

The 6-foot-3 Moncau created an ideal target. Fast and fluid forward Sam Brown made sharp runs that augmented his teammate’s size and presence.

Mason Brooke, who has shown a great feel and poise for the game, also created a series of sharp and aggressive plays.

The pieces all came together beautifully in the 19th minute.

Just after the Moncau shot off the far post, the Warriors maintained their possessive style.

Finnegan played a great through-ball down the left flank. A streaking Carlton McClure reached it and served a fantastic left-footed ball into the box.

Mason Brooke floated behind the Timothy back and smashed home the header for the 1-0 lead.

After their visitors took the lead in the second half, Wheaton Academy played hard and furiously to get back into the game.

Finnegan had several more excellent services into the box, but with the two-goal cushion Timothy could afford to drop numbers and force Wheaton Academy to thread the ball into exceptionally tight windows.

The Warriors aspired to find goals, but they could not break through that walled-off defensive third.

“All of their goals were either off throw-ins, or little kicks in the box,” Murray said.  “We just couldn’t get the ball out of the box. 

“We never stopped trying the whole game, and I am very proud of the boys and how they played. We just didn’t capitalize when we should have.”

In his return to coaching after a sabbatical as an elementary school principal, Jeff Brooke had the ideal perspective to weigh the merits of the entire season, not just reducing everything to a single-elimination game.

“Mason got that great goal, and I was really pleased with how hard our guys played,” Jeff Brooke said.

“I like how they have grown, and come so far since we first started in August. The seniors have had a great impact on the program.”

With multiple returning players, Wheaton Academy is certain to remain a force, regardless of its class, conference affiliation or where it’s placed in the state tournament.

“I love coaching because of the relationships with the guys,” Jeff Brooke said. “We’re trying to grow on the field but also off of it.

“We really challenged the guys to do that, and help each other do that. Being part of that, and being part of soccer again, was really a privilege. Our underclassmen are going to be hungry to get after it and keep growing.”

Starting lineups

GK: Peter Buikema
D: Timotej Kacian
D: Ben Schroeder
D: Trevor Munk
D: Wes Hueber
MF: Owen Wise
MF: Cooper Rainone
MF: Timothy Nulty
F: Hendrick DeVries
F: Marc Gamble
F: Caleb Bode

Wheaton Academy
GK: Connor Riddle
D: Carlton McClure
D: Asher Barton
D: Jacob Karlson
D: Caleb Vandervelde
MF: Andrew Lopez
MF: Mason Brooke
MF: Scotty Murray
MF: Cuyler Finnegan
F: Sam Brown
F: Alex Moncau

Chicagoland Soccer Man of the Match: Hendrik DeVries, sr., F, Timothy

Scoring summary

First half
Wheaton Academy: Mason Brooke (Cuyler Finnegan, Carlton McClure), 19th minute
Timothy: Timothy Nulty (Hendrik DeVries), 40th minute

Second half
Timothy: Cooper Rainone (Caleb Hoekstra), 57th minute
Timothy: Hoekstra (DeVries), 59th minute