SKOKIE — So much is different about the boys soccer playoffs when compared to the regular season.
The temperatures drop. The intensity increases. The pressure skyrockets. The end of players’ seasons and careers is always imminent.
At New Trier, the shift from the regular season to the postseason has been marked by the Trevians’ players changing their hairstyles. They’ve sported mohawks in recent years. Each player on this year’s team has one.
“It’s a tradition at New Trier to get ready and pumped for the playoffs,” senior forward Duncan Gill said. “I don’t know who started it, but I like it.”
The tradition’s origin was unclear on the Trevians’ sideline after Gill’s hat trick led New Trier to a 4-1 victory over Maine South in the Class 3A Niles North Sectional semifinal on Tuesday night. New Trier will play top-seeded Evanston at 1 p.m. Saturday for the sectional championship.
Two Trevians told Gill they heard it started in the mid-70s. New Trier coach Wes Molyneaux was skeptical of that, given that the New Trier teams he played on in the 1990s didn’t wear mohawks. He guessed it started with a few players on the 2006 team — Kris Linney is one example — that won the school’s first state title in boys soccer, and then grew from there.
Regardless of the origin, the mohawks serve a purpose.
“I think it’s just a mental thing to say, ‘Hey, this is different than the regular season,’ ” Molyneaux said. “It’s a reminder every day when you look at the mirror to say, ‘This means a little more now.’ ”
Second-seeded New Trier (20-3-2) has played at a high level this postseason. It cruised to a regional title, and then dominated the sixth-seeded Hawks (10-11-2).
Molyneaux said the team has been very focused during its training sessions since the playoffs began. The mohawks aren’t the sole reason why, but having them certainly doesn’t hurt.
“They remind us what we’re really working for and brings us together even more,” Gill said.
• Gill scored New Trier’s first three goals — two came in the first half, one was in the second half — and sophomore Matt Gallo put in the fourth on an assist from senior midfielder Colin Egerter.
• Maine South’s lone goal was scored by junior midfielder Ethan Gebavi, who cut the Trevians’ lead to 2-1 with 1:51 remaining in the first half.