HOFFMAN ESTATES ---New Trier had revenge on its mind late Friday night.
All that stood between the Trevians and the program’s first Class 3A state championship game appearance since 2008 was Central Suburban League South Division nemesis Glenbrook North.In a way, the Trevians had the Spartans to thank for their epic surge of victories.
On Sept. 11, the Trevians dropped a 2-1 decision to the Spartans on their home field. They responded by not losing another game. The Trevians reeled off 14 victories in a row heading in Friday’s Class 3A state semifinal match against Glenbrook North.
New Trier coach Matt Ravenscraft said the early regular-season loss to the Spartans was a turning point for his team.
“(Glenbrook North) took it to us on our home pitch,” Ravenscraft said. “It certainly was a moment for the team where we had to decide what sort of team and season we wanted. We always have a strong strength of schedule, so we know we will be tested. It’s very unrealistic to be undefeated. What we ask as coaches is to learn, just to learn from wins and losses. Sometimes it’s easier to learn from losses. Credit to Glenbrook North, they tested us all night back in September on our home pitch.”
The loss definitely was a teaching moment for the Trevians, plus a motivating moment. New Trier earned payback with a 2-0 victory over the Spartans in the second semifinal Friday night at Hoffman Estates High School.
The Trevians (22-1-2) advance to battle Lyons for the state championship at 6:30 p.m. Saturday night. New Trier reached the title game mainly due to solid play on set pieces. Oliver Fernandez and Calyx Hoover both scored a goal to spark the Trevians, while goalie Shafer Braham tallied three saves on a rainy and slick field.
“I think we were better at set pieces and won the set piece war tonight,” Ravenscraft said, standing alone near the team bus late Friday night. “We did not win the set piece battle the first time we played them. I’m really proud. My guys had to defend multiple corner kicks and long throw-ins. That’s just winning your individual duels. The boys were massive in big moments.
“We know Lyons well. We host a tournament in the beginning of the season (the Northside College Showcase), and they’ve been one of the perennial members. We have a lot of respect for their team. We have seen them play. They are extremely well-coached and work really hard.”
New Trier’s Kevin Farina said the team play on set pieces was the difference in the game.
“We played a lot better on set pieces,” Farina said. “The last time we played them we conceded two goals on set pieces and lost. We did a much better job defending them. That was our focus coming into the game. It was personal. We wanted this game very bad.”s
Glenbrook North veteran coach Paul Vignocchi credited New Trier for coming out strong and scoring a goal in each half to seize and then maintain control of the game. Vignocchi started coaching at Glenbrook North in 2004, leading the team to a fourth place state finish. The Spartans (21-4-2) advanced to state for the first time since that season but fell short of winning the program’s second state title.
Vignocchi returned to the top job this season. Paul Gibbs coached the team last season, with Vignocchi assisting after taking a new job at the school. After Gibbs took a job at a different school, Vignocchi came back.
Glenbrook North goalie Gil Meyers had a highlight-reel save in the final minutes on a 1-v-1 situation, charging out to stop Aidan O’Neill’s breakaway with a leg save to keep his team in the game. Meyers tallied four saves in the loss.
“We knew that they were going to come out strong,” Vignocchi said. “They’ve been on a pretty good hot streak since we beat them. I’m sure they had this game circled on their calendar, so they had some added inspiration. I thought we had some opportunities and created some, but we just didn’t finish them tonight. That was the biggest difference in the game. They got the second goal, then it was an uphill battle for us.
“This game is cruel if you don’t finish your opportunities. It definitely hurts you. The boys created a lot of great opportunities, but it was one of those things where the ball didn’t go in the back of the net for us. They had a couple of good opportunities and finished them. That was the difference.”
Glenbrook North senior midfielder Steven Rhee, who has 11 goals and seven assists on the season, said the defeat was frustrating, mainly due to his team’s wide number of chances. The Spartans controlled possession for most of the second half. Chase Peterson was an effective weapon with his long throw-ins. His throw-in in the 66th minute was nearly headed into the net by Ben Melnick.
Brady Spiggos missed a goal by inches off a corner kick in the 71st minute. The Spartans had chances, but numerous shots were deflected, saved or wide by just a few inches or more.
“We fought and tried our best and just got unlucky and weren’t able to execute,” Rhee said. “We played New Trier before and knew what we were coming into. I didn’t see much difference in their play. They just got the best of us today.”
Meanwhile, the Trevians capitalized on their chances. Fernandez sent an early message to the Spartans with a goal with 27:09 left until halftime after a long 35-yard free kick.
“I saw (Gabe) Yoder make a shot that was saved, and I was right there to follow it up,” Fernandez said. “It was a great team goal. It was all about our energy. We knew we were going to get the first goal. We had to keep the game in our hands.”
The Trevians nearly added another goal in the 16th minute on a long throw-in, then had two close shots that were blocked in the 26th minute. The two teams played fast and physical and the game was chippy, mainly due to the intensity, familiarity and its magnitude.
Glenbrook North came out energized in the opening minutes of the second half. Spiggos and Ian Lee both had back-to-back shots in the 47th minute that were deflected by New Trier’s athletic and active backline.
New Trier’s Hoover padded the lead to 2-0 by scoring a goal on a bullet shot. He found a seam, did a quick turn and fired a ground shot into the back of the net with 19:02 left in the game.
“Our coaches always talk about being open as a weakside 10, so I try and look for those cutting and diagonal runs,” Hoover said. “I saw Linus Ho. He played me that ball. I did a nice right-foot touch and left-foot shot. It’s amazing. It’s so good to win this game and reach the state title game.”
“We stayed composed and kept our poise and continued pushing toward the second goal,” New Trier’s Ian Vichnick said. “We knew we could start rolling after the second goal.”
The senior collapsed to the pitch following the end of the game, taking a few seconds to rest and relax following a mentally and physically grueling game.
“I was so happy, and it was utter joy,” he said. “It was a battle and all the respect to Glenbrook North for putting up a great fight. I don’t know if I’ve ever been hit that much in a game. Props to them. They really took it to us.”
GK: Shafer Brahm
D: Liam Myers
D: Kevin Farina
D: Harrison Hahner
MF: Yannick Vaughan
MF: Ian Vichnick
MF: Aidan O’Neill
MF: Cole Driscoll
MF: Oliver Fernandez
MF: Gabe Yoder
F: Calyx Hoover
GK: Gil Meyers
D: Sam Lappin
D: Yianny Caparos
D: Brady Spiggos
D: Chase Petersen
MF: Kieran Layland
MF: Steven Rhee
MF: Lukasz Wilczek
MF: Jackson Lee
MF: Ian Lee
F: Michael Miller
Chicagoland Man of the Match: Oliver Fernandez, sr., MF, New Trier
New Trier: Fernandez (Yoder), 14’
New Trier: Hoover (Ho), 61’