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Game story: North Shore Country Day posts historic win over Peoria Christian

By Bill McLean, 11/03/23, 10:15AM CDT


Raiders net 2-0 win, earn 1st Class A championship appearance

HOFFMAN ESTATES — When Peoria Christian senior forward Jameson Fisher struck a shot late in the second half of Thursday afternoon’s Class A state semifinal match against North Shore Country Day, the ball went one way and his right cleat went another.

The shoe traveled considerably farther than the sphere did.

So far — at least 20 yards — that Raiders senior goalkeeper Aram Dombalagian almost had to field it near a post.

“It flew off my foot,” Fisher said afterward.

But the match came down to a pair of historical feats, not airborne footwear.

North Shore Country Day won 2-0, recording its first state-finals goals and victory in its second Final Four appearance. The
Raiders had lost a 3-0 state semi to University (Chicago) before falling 2-0 to Notre Dame (Quincy) in the match for third place in 2019.

“Absolutely brilliant, all of them,” North Shore Country Day coach Kyle Jones said of his boys’ performances in chilly conditions at Garber Stadium, home of Hoffman Estates’ Hawks. “We summoned what we had to summon for this big game. Preparation … they were ready.

“I could not be prouder of the team than I am now. Let’s do it again and get another win.”

North Shore Country Day (16-5-1) faces University (Normal) for the Class A title at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. University (Normal/21-5-2) defeated Columbia 2-0 in Thursday’s second state semifinal.

Peoria Christian (23-5-2) will battle Columbia (17-4-4) in the match for third place at noon Friday.

Peoria Christian, ranked no. 4 in Chicagoland Soccer’s Class A Super 7 poll, entered its third state finals appearance — all
under 17th-year coach Cory Hynek — having outscored its five playoff opponents by a combined 25-3. The Chargers had four
20-goal scorers, and the coach’s son, junior midfielder and Illinois High School Soccer Association All-Stater Quinton
Hynek, had amassed a cartoonish 41 assists in 29 matches.

“Frustration,” Cory Hynek said at the postgame presser. “We deserved to be here. In the first half (when North Shore Country Day enjoyed the run of play) we were a little rattled. Second half, we settled down, had opportunities.”

The plan of the attack in the match for bronze?

“Score,” coach Hynek said.

North Shore Country Day junior forward Henry Gallun broke the semifinal stalemate in the 58th minute after a 30-yard service off the foot of junior midfielder Razaan Ghazi. North Shore Country Day senior forward Daniel Becker, planted not far from Gallun and a Chargers defender, controlled the delivery before quickly dishing it to Gallun, who then dribbled the ball to a spot near the top of the box.

His ensuing left-footed shot to the far post scooted 15 yards and past Peoria Christian junior keeper Josh Walton (seven

Gallun, surrounded by ecstatic teammates, sat down with his wrists resting on his knees while celebrating the goal, mimicking Erling Haaland’s post-goal meditative pose. Haaland plays for FC Red Bull Salzburg.

Six-foot-3 Raiders senior forward Leif Steele tallied the cushion-goal seven minutes later following a turnover 30 yards out.
Steele turned and dribble-drove before hammering a left-footed shot that practically matched the distance and path of
Gullun’s goal.

Steele’s goal had a little more oomph behind it. Steele and Gallun, by the way, are right-footed booters.

North Shore Country Day has now outscored its postseason foes by a combined 24-1 this fall.

“We stayed hungry, stayed connected as a team,” Steele said of his side’s mindset. “Every game has been bigger than the last

Peoria Christian's Walton made the biggest save of Thursday’s game in the 35th minute off a rocket shot from Gallun. Walton timed his ascent perfectly to deflect the attempt that was headed to the upper-left quadrant of the goal.

Gallun’s steady heat offensively in the first 40 minutes, along with his second half goal, earned him the Chicagoland Soccer
Man of the Match honor.

Becker’s hustle and Steele’s dangerous throw-ins also challenged Peoria Christian, which defeated reigning Class A state champion Quincy (Notre Dame) 5-2 in the Illinois Valley Central Sectional final on Oct. 25.

Junior back Luke Hansen and senior midfielder Ricardo Gonzalez stood out defensively for the victors. Winning keeper Dombalagian stopped two shots.

Laser focus has had a lot to do with the Raiders’ best season in program history.

“We never look ahead,” Becker, an IHSSCA All-Section selectee, said. “It’s always game-by-game. We used the same approach
for our league (Independent School) games.”

Peoria Christian’s Fisher, who plans to play baseball (as either a catcher or a outfielder) in college, played a fiery and
purposeful brand of soccer from the get-go Thursday. Chargers senior forward Caden Schmidgall’s speed and crosses were constant threats.

“Our team this year was like a family,” Schmidgall said.

“And more community-based than ever,” added Fisher, who isn’t the team’s best bass fisherman.

That distinction belongs to Schmidgall, who helped a Chargers boat finish seventh among 25 others at a bass fishing sectional
last spring.


Thursday’s first Class A state semifinal had an AFC West — Raiders vs. Chargers — sound to it. … Because Illinois is staging
all three state tournaments on the same weekend this year, North Shore Country Day gets to enjoy a day off Friday, though the Raiders will attend classes in Winnetka. “We’re going to avoid getting caught up in the craziness of the weekend and focus on our game,” Raiders coach Jones, in his 16th season, said. “Friday we’ll go over film; we like to spend a lot of time on
film study.” … The win Thursday meant Jones needs only 11 more victories to reach 200 in his career at North Shore Country Day. … North Shore Country Day’s enrollment is 212 to Peoria Christian’s 193. It appeared that Peoria Christian’s entire student body made the trip north. Both teams’ supporters sported predominantly purple togs. … Peoria Christian’s Fisher, on playing for third place Friday: “With two teams coming off a loss, the winner will be the team that shows the most intensity. We’re going to give it our all.”

Starting lineups

North Shore Country Day
GK Aram Dombalagian
D Luke Hansen
D Thatcher Smith
D Kyle Banner
D Smith Flickinger
MF Razaan Ghazi
MF Ricardo Gonzalez
MF Kai Zavala
F Henry Gallun
F Daniel Becker
F Leif Steele

Peoria Christian
GK Josh Walton
D Bryce Pollizze
D Elijah Chism
D Myles Zimmerman
D Trae Brickner
MF Jo Yokota
MF Quinton Hynek
MF Colson Below
MF Jacob Walton
F Caden Schmidgall
F Jameson Fisher

Chicagoland Soccer Man of the Match: Henry Gallun, jr., F, North Shore Country Day

Referees: Tom Martinez (center); John Martelin (AR1); Stepan Kaak (AR2); Kevin Cathelyn (4th)

Scoring summary

First half
No scoring

Second half
North Shore Country Day — Gallun (Becker, Ghazi), 58’
North Shore Country Day — Steele (UA), 65’