MUNDELEIN — Now that the Mundelein boys soccer season has ended, coach Ernie Billittier and his returning players are looking ahead to next year.
“It always presents a new challenge,” Billittier said.
The challenge for 2015 will be rebuilding a team that loses 13 seniors.
Billittier said the Mustangs, who finished 11-7-3 after losing to Libertyville in a Class 3A regional final Saturday, will lose many forwards and midfielders, “so we’re going to have to kind of rebuild our attack and our system.”
One of the team’s strengths has been leadership, Billittier said, and he credited the seniors with laying a strong foundation for a solid group of younger players.
“Our seniors have done a really nice job in the classroom as well as on the field,” Billittier said. “They all have pride in their school, which is something that we’ve talked about.”
The coach said he’s talked with seniors about tradition never graduating, and said players’ families have been supportive over the years.
“They become more than just soccer players, obviously,” he said.
Players said they just have fun on the field together. Senior midfielder Hector Ruiz said the team’s strong communication has allowed for good ball possession between the defense, midfielders and forwards.
“We’ve been playing since middle school, like really early on,” Ruiz said of the group of seniors. “We have a good chemistry. Every single one of us looks out for each other on and off the field.”
Junior midfielder Yann Nsoga also mentioned his teammates’ solid passing skills.
“We’re really good at connecting passes,” he said.
Forwards Armando Gomez and Mason Homsey also have racked up goals and were solid finishers, he said.
As he looks ahead to next season, Billittier said he hopes to see the team work on its consistency. All of the Mustangs’ losses except the first were by one goal, so he wants to see the players execute at a higher level.
With the loss of multiple seniors, Nsoga said Mundelein will have to bring up a lot of “young guns.”
“It’s going to be a challenge, but it’s not going to be bad,” Nsoga said. “We’re going to try to find a way to succeed with that.”