NORTHFIELD — Senior Jack Cornelo has been the engine driving the New Trier boys soccer team’s offense this season.
Cornelo is a small, shifty player who seems to have an uncommon stamina on the field. His fitness and spot in New Trier’s starting lineup have both been constants throughout his three-year varsity career, but Cornelo has moved from right back to attacking center midfielder this season and he’s playing there full time for the first time in his life.
“Offensive mid is such a different position than outside back,” Cornelo said before New Trier’s practice on Wednesday afternoon. “Building chemistry, that took some time, because before I had to build chemistry with my backline (when) I was a defender.”
Cornelo and the team’s attacking players began working together during the program’s summer league games, Cornelo said, and their relationships have only strengthened as New Trier (8-0-3 going into tonight’s game at Evanston) has started its season undefeated. Cornelo said he tried to pick up on his teammates’ preferences early on, like where certain attacking players like the ball – on their feet, or into space so they can run onto it – when he’s passing it to them.
Cornelo is playing about 70-75 minutes a game in one of the team’s most physically-demanding positions, New Trier coach Wes Molyneaux estimated, and his runs into dangerous areas have made him very effective.
Molyneaux said he and the Trevians’ staff works with Cornelo, who’s scored six goals this season, on finding those areas. They watch a lot of film in order to determine how Cornelo can exploit a defense to create goal-scoring opportunities for both himself and his teammates.
Another point of emphasis during those film sessions is to show where Cornelo needs to be defensively in order to keep the Trevians’ 4-3-3 formation strong.
“In the formation we’re playing, he has the freedom to find the gaps that teams are giving us,” Molyneaux said. “It takes a smart player, a unique player and certainly a player who has as much fitness as he does (to find them).
“Even late in the games he’s finding those gaps, and he’s willing to make those long runs. Sometimes he gets the ball, sometimes he doesn’t get the ball, but he’s willing to make those long runs out of the center-mid position to get open and we’re able to find him. I think that sort of never-ending engine, and desire to get the ball, has allowed him to be really successful.”