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Class A state preview story: North Shore Country Day

By Curt Herron, 11/01/23, 10:30PM CDT


Coach Kyle Jones and his Raiders are headed to the Final Four for the second time after capturing a 2-0 victory over University (Chicago) in the Marine Leadership Supersectional on Oct. 28 in Chicago. In their only other state trip in 2019, the Raiders finished fourth.

North Shore Country Day School (15-5-1) defeated University (Chicago) in its third try this season. Previously against their Independent School League foes, the Raiders lost 2-1 on Sept. 30 and played to a 1-1 draw Aug. 31.  

Senior defender Smith Flickinger scored both goals in the final 14:49 in the teams’ most important clash of the season. University (Chicago) also defeated the Raiders 3-0 in the 2019 semifinals before going on to capture the Class A championship.

North Shore Country Day will meet Peoria Christian in the first small-school semifinal at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Hoffman Estates High School.

The Raiders have recorded four-straight shutouts and outscored their five playoff opponents by a 22-1 margin. The lone goal-allowed came in a 9-1 victory over Beacon in the regional opener. All five playoff wins have been by two goals or more. 

Coach Jones is 188-78-32 in 16 seasons at the Winnetka school. Since 2008 he has 13 winning seasons. The Raiders have gone 79-16-7 during the last five seasons and finished 18-5-1 after their previous Final Four appearance. 

Senior goalkeeper Aram Dombalagian has an 0.95 GAA in 21 matches. The Raiders have posted nine shutouts and allowed just one goal on six other occasions. Of the 20 goals surrendered, nine have come against AA and 3A teams.

Dombalagian shares captain duties with fellow seniors, forward Daniel Becker, forward Leif Steele and Flickinger. 

Becker leads the Raiders with 17 goals and ranks third in assists with five. Junior midfielder/forward Henry Gallun is second in goals with 14 and second in assists with eight, while Steele ranks third in goals with eight and leads the squad with 10 assists.

Other goal-scoring threats include Flickinger with six, junior midfielder/forward Ben Rodzynek with four and freshman forward Kaeden Ackley, junior defender Luke Hansen, junior midfielder/forward Simon Luglio and junior midfielder Kai Zavala with three apiece. 

Junior midfielder Razaan Ghazi and Zavala both have four assists, and Flickinger has delivered three.

Iron men on the team, who have competed in all 21 matches, are senior defender Kyle Banner, junior defender/midfielder Thatcher Smith, Flickinger, Ghazi and Zavala. Hansen has played in 20 contests, and senior midfielder Ricardo Gonzalez, Becker and Steele have played in all but two.

Several Raiders received postseason awards from the Illinois High School Soccer Coaches Association. Becker, Dombalagian and Steele earned all-section honors, Gonzalez received an all-section sportsmanship award and Steele was an all-section academic recipient.

North Shore Country Day, which lost 1-0 to Latin in the sectional finals last season, won a regional title for the fifth-straight year.

Assistant coaches for the Raiders are Mike Pilger, David Potter, Daniel Radeljic and Mark Medhurst.

"Since clinching the ISL title on the last day of the season with a win away at Lake Forest Academy (2-1, Oct. 4), the team has gone from strength to strength and is now really playing some tough, quality soccer," Jones said. 

"We are really looking forward to returning to the Final Four."

Click here for North Shore Country team page