Waukegan’s conference title hopes dashed in loss to New Trier

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WAUKEGAN — The likelihood of the Waukegan boys soccer team winning a conference championship took a severe hit when it lost by four goals to Maine South on Sept. 27.

Waukegan’s loss to the Hawks was an aberration — the Bulldogs were without more than half of their starting lineup due to injuries and a death in the family of two of their players, according to Waukegan senior Osmel Ochoa — but it removed the team’s margin of error within the Central Suburban League South.

The Bulldogs responded to their sizable loss by beating Glenbrook South on Tuesday evening, yet New Trier ended their CSL South title hopes on Wednesday night. The Trevians, who are currently ranked No. 5 by the Sun-Times, beat Waukegan 2-0 to win the CSL South.

“Ever since the beginning of the season, we always thought about this game,” Ochoa, a senior, said. “We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. … We couldn’t put the ball in the net tonight.”

The Trevians (13-3-2, 4-1 CSL South) took an early lead when senior midfielder Steven Childs’ corner kick was headed in by 6-2 forward Duncan Gill about 11 minutes into the match.

Gill, a senior, soared above Waukegan’s undersized defense to score what turned out to be the game-winner, and his goal was an example of New Trier’s size advantage.

“They scored two goals against [Glenbrook South] on corners and throw-ins, so we knew [of New Trier’s size] going in,” Waukegan coach Peter Valdez said. “You try to plan for it as best you can. You can’t coach height, so it’s difficult.”

Despite falling behind 1-0 early, the Bulldogs (8-4-1, 2-2 CSL South) played well to finish the first half. Senior forwards Eric Hernandez and Jonathan Rojas both almost tied the match, but their shots were blocked by New Trier senior goalkeeper Jonathan Jaggard.

New Trier was able to get more possession in the second half, and it limited the Bulldogs’ goal-scoring chances. The Trevians did so by changing formations in order to add a midfielder, and Gill said that being so close to winning the program’s first conference championship since 2008 helped New Trier find energy in the second half after it suffered a heartbreaking 2-1 defeat to Evanston on Tuesday.

“It feels fantastic,” Gill said, of winning the CSL South. “We haven’t done it in a long time. It’s good to bounce back from the loss we had yesterday, and taking conference from Evanston after they beat us feels really good.”

New Trier junior forward Spencer Farina cemented the Trevians’ control of the match when he scored in the 52nd minute. The Bulldogs didn’t threaten to come back after that.

“They took the momentum from us, I think because we got away from our passes,” Valdez said. “We played too much long ball, and that’s not our game. That’s not our style. That’s when we really felt [the pressure of being behind].”

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