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Game story: VanBreusegen's big game leads Columbia past Peoria Christian

By Bobby Narang, 11/04/23, 12:15AM CDT


Junior forward's goal, 2 assists lead Eagles to 3rd place finish

HOFFMAN ESTATES – In the first 11 minutes of Friday’s Class A state third place game, Columbia junior forward Hayes VanBreusegen caused problems for Peoria Christian’s backline and goalie Josh Walton.


After the Eagles failed to score a goal in Thursday’s 2-0 state semifinal defeat to University (Normal), VanBreusegen quickly went to work to fix that oversight early Friday afternoon at Hoffman Estates High School.


VanBreusegen narrowly missed scoring a goal just two-plus minutes into the game, then found the back of the net with a strong header in the seventh minute off a free kick from Quinten Frentzel.


Seventy-three seconds later, VanBreusegen contributed to another goal. He raced to the far corner and beat a Chargers’ defender to the ball before flicking a perfect cross to teammate Luke DeWilde, who tapped in a slow-rolling shot from 11 yards for a 2-0 edge.


Just over two minutes later, VanBreusegen received a rude gift from Peoria Christian for his strong opening play. A loose ball caused Peoria keeper Josh Walton to take a few steps off his line, putting him a few yards away from VanBreusegen.


As the ball was cleared out, Walton slightly shoved VanBreusegen, which caused him to tumble to the ground. Afterward he stared out at the main bleachers in dismay.


“Yeah, I don’t know what happened (on that play),” VanBreusegen deadpanned.


That was about the only thing that frustrated Columbia in its second game at state in two days. Led by a three-goal effort in the first half, the Eagles cruised to a 3-0 victory over Peoria Christian to earn the Class A third place state trophy.


It was Columbia’s third piece of state hardware after a Class A title in 2014 and another third place finish 2010.


VanBreusegan finished with a goal and two assists to finish with team-highs of 22 and 12 respectively. He said the Eagles were motivated from the opening whistle at 12:01 p.m.


“We came into the game just mad after (Thursday’s loss),” VanBreusegen said. “It’s hard to get up for a third place game, but we really felt the energy and came in with a chip on our shoulders and came out with intensity. I knew our first goal was the start of us getting mentally (locked in), but we knew we needed another one to really get going. This is big for our program, not a lot of people believed in us because we lost three key players from last year. We proved people wrong.”


Columbia coach Jamey Bridges said fast starts have been the key to his team’s historic season. He called Friday’s win a key growth point for the program.


Columbia (18-4-4) is already looking forward to next year. The Eagles bring back the majority of their squad next fall. They finished with a school-record 17 shutouts this season.


“I think in a game like this, especially after a disappointment the day before, you wonder how you would come out,” Bridges said. “To be coming out that way is indicative of what we’ve done all year. (Thursday,) it didn’t work out for us. When it does work out for us, it plays out like this a lot of times. If you would’ve told us at the beginning of the year, this is where we would end up at, we would’ve taken it.


“To get so close with only four seniors is a huge statement. This has only happened two other times in our history, so to be able to do this is special. We played urgent and quick and built out of the back, shutting them down and getting the breaks. With (VanBreusegen) up-top and making it hard on their backline, when we do that, we’re dangerous


“For us, to have 17 shutouts is a big thing. I talked to them after the game about (next season) and the momentum and expectations next year and the target on our backs. I’m already looking ahead to next year. When you haven’t been to state, you just want to get here because anything can happen. This team has been here now, so we want to build on this.”


Some would have said Peoria Christian (23-4-2) entered the game facing an uphill climb. The Chargers, with an enrollment just under 200 students, are more than 400 students smaller than Columbia. Despite having five players with 18 goals or more, they failed to score in the finals.


Peoria Christian coach Cory Hynek said Columbia’s fast start derailed his team’s chances to win a game in the program’s third state appearance. Despite giving up five goals at state, keeper Walton starred in the net with many sharp saves. The junior was in net for all 17 of the team’s shutouts this season.


The Chargers suffered a major setback in the 28th minute, when senior forward Jameson Fisher was carded for a foul and then pushed the ball away from its free kick spot to earn a second yellow. That put his team down a man for the rest of the game.


“We kind of knew that the team that would bounce back (first) from the previous night would have the advantage,” Hynek said. “We made some costly mistakes in the back, but it’s always a big deal to be up there (at state). We don’t have a lot of club soccer players. These guys are special and really care for each other and played together. I’m so proud of what these guys have accomplished this year.


“Our goal, Josh, kept us in games all season. He’s an amazing athlete. Our junior Quinton Hynek is the first two-time all-state guy as a junior, so we’re looking forward to him leading the group and taking the challenge next year. We’re excited for the future.”


After VanBreusegen, the Chicagoland Soccer Man of the Match, headed in the first goal, Columbia freshman midfielder Luke DeWilde continued his stunning season with a pair of goals.


DeWilde, who ended the season with 10 goals and seven assists, benefitted from a perfect cross from VanBreusegen to pad the lead to 2-0 in the game’s eighth minute. DeWilde took the pass from his right side and hit a slow tap-in.


The promising freshman added his second goal on a highlight-reel cross from VanBreusegen with 15:31 remaining in the opening half. VanBreusegen beat a Chargers’ defender to a loose ball that trailed into the far corner, then managed to free himself to send in a cross to DeWilde.


DeWilde drilled a shot into the back of the net for a commanding 3-0 lead.


Peoria Christian keeper Walton said Columbia’s speed up-top was a big factor in the loss.


“They were quick,” Walton said. “They kept coming, and we had to stay strong. (VanBreusegen) was really quick and they kept playing it over the top and kept looking to shoot on goal.”


DeWilde caused a big round of laughs in the postgame press conference, providing another example of his unflappable personality, by calling out teammate Carson Mueth for missing a wide open tap-in just seven seconds into the game.


“Both of my goals were easy goals because they were tap-ins, just great crosses from Hayes,” DeWilde said. “After Carson (Mueth) missed an easy tap-in, I had to show him how it’s done. Hayes came to me before the game and said we aren’t getting a participation trophy, so we came in ready to beat them.”


DeWilde said it’s been a whirlwind experience for him this season on the varsity.


“It’s been a lot of nerves going through all these games since I’m younger than most of the kids on this team,” DeWilde said. “I’m just trying to play up with them, not thinking much.”


Columbia junior defender Liam Bivins said the backline was organized and communicated throughout the 80-minute game. Junior goalie Brady Hemminghaus barely got his jersey dirty on the overcast afternoon, notching all three of his saves in the second half.


Bivins said the returnees will benefit from playing two games at state.


“I feel we can only get better now that we will have more experience next year and will have multiple seniors starting,” Bivins said. “Right now, we’re just enjoying this victory.”


Peoria Christian, which won eight games in a row in a two-week stretch of September, closed out the game with a flourish. They had several late attempts, highlighted by Myles Zimmerman’s header that missed wide by inches with five minutes left in regulation.


Quinton Hynek said the two early goals allowed shocked the team.


“We came out flatfooted,” he said. “They got some quick ones on us. I kept thinking we were good, because there was still a lot of time. The third goal really hurt. We talked at halftime about playing hard for 40 minutes for the seniors. I thought we came out really well in the second half and possessed the ball and played our game. We started off today not really playing any game. Even with a man down, we played our game in the second half. It was a lot more enjoyable. This experience will live forever, and we all gave a good effort. Our goal at the beginning of the year was to make it here.”



Starting lineups


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


GK: Brady Hemminghaus
D: Jack Fromme
D: Lucas Cole
D:  Elliot Nelson
D: Kane Riebeling
D: Liam Bivins
MF: Quinten Frentzel
MF: Micah James
MF: Luke DeWilde
F: Carson Mueth
F: Hayes VanBruesegen


Chicagoland Soccer Man of the Match: Hayes VanBreusegen, jr., F, Columbia



Scoring summary


First half 
Columbia: VanBreusegan (Frentzel), 7’
Columbia: DeWilde (VanBreusegen), 9’ 
Columbia: DeWilde (VanBreusegen), 25’


Second half
No scoring