St. Joseph certainly wasn’t happy with how early its season ended, with a 4-2 loss to Kennedy in the Riverside-Brookfield Sectional semifinals.
To make things worse, Kennedy was found to have played the game with an ineligible player and was forced to forfeit its sectional championship game with Nazareth.
The good news for the Chargers is that they’re loaded with young talent and poised for a very big season next year.
Two of the key players coming back are currently juniors, left midfielder Eduardo Gutierrez and center midfielder Victor Moreno. The duo grew up in neighboring towns with Gutierrez hailing from Cicero and Moreno coming from Berwyn, but they didn’t meet until freshman year.
“I met him at tryouts and I saw him as competition at first,” Gutierrez said. “I spotted him and knew he had talent. I thought he was a good player and he got me wanting to get better. He was motivation.”
They became fast friends and by the end of their freshman season both players were on varsity.
“We’re really close and we consider each other brothers now,” Moreno said. “We usually car pool to school and hang out after practice and games. It’s amazing to have that relationship.”
The friendship has paid dividends on the field for both players. This season they combined for 28 goals and 25 assists as the Chargers compiled a 16-4-3 record. There is no better moment that shows their connection than the final minute against St. Rita on Oct. 10.
“The game was tied 1-1 and (Gutierrez) told me he would take the whole team and I told him ‘OK, I’ll be on the left side’,” Moreno said. “He beat two guys and passed me the ball. I could have taken the shot but I saw him beating his guy so I passed it back. He took the shot and won the game with 10 seconds left.”
“He can play with me well and I can play with him well,” Gutierrez added. “We just click. Prior to games we’ll sit by each other on the bus and we talk about the game and we talk strategy.”
Their ability to work together won the Chargers a lot of games this season. But both players were disappointed by only advancing to the sectional semifinals.
“We had a real good team this year and I’m still upset about that loss,” said Gutierrez, who finished with 17 goals and eight assists. “It was too early of a loss on the road to state.”
Now that the high school season is over, the two star players will go their own way for a while. Moreno (11 goals, 17 assists) plays club soccer with the Raiders SD, located in Lemont, while Gutierrez competes with the Chicago Magic PSG.
“They’re a really high level of soccer,” Moreno said. “I joined them freshman year and the first year was tough because it was a real increase in speed.”