Hinsdale Central junior soccer players Jack Niestrom and Wes Bergevin were thrilled to earn accolades for their play this season.
Niestrom earned all-sectional honors as a midfielder by the Illinois High School Soccer Coaches Association, while goalkeeper Bergevin achieved all-state recognition.
“Obviously it’s really cool,” Niestrom said. “In the long run, though, that’s not what it’s all about. We wanted to get to the next round of the playoffs and prove ourselves.”
That team-first attitude was just one of many reasons the Red Devils enjoyed a memorable season, despite losing to Lyons 2-1 Oct. 29 in the Class 3A Hinsdale South Sectional semifinal in Darien.
Hinsdale Central (20-1-2) was ranked as high as No. 5 in the NSCAA National Poll before its lone setback.
“A lot of things made this group special on top of their record,” Hinsdale Central coach Mike Wiggins said. “They were spirited, enthusiastic and hard working. They came out every day and had fun and never took the recognition or rankings and turned it into a negative. They had fun with all of it. It is a good group of guys, who understood their roles and did them extremely well. We were able to get a lot out of a very talented group.”
Bergevin, whose father, Marc, is the general manager of the Montreal Canadiens and a former defenseman for the Chicago Blackhawks, thrived in goal and is among a talented core of returning players.
He started 21 games and posted 12 shutouts, the program’s third most in a season.
Being named all-state wasn’t something Bergevin thought much about.
“It was pretty cool,” Bergevin said. “At first I didn’t believe my coach when he told me. It’s a privilege to be recognized.
“We want next year to be as good as this year and even better. The seniors we graduate were absolutely incredible on and off the field. They helped players during training sessions and were just good people. We were glad to have them, but we had a big class of juniors that will be returning next year.”
Niestrom was pleased to see his teammate earn all-state honors.
“He’s a really good goalkeeper,” Niestrom said. “Being all-state as a junior is a big deal. He puts our team on his back and saves us sometimes. We’re lucky to have a goalie like him. He’s just really athletic and knows how to pick and choose the time to come out (of goal) and can really punt the ball far.
“We’ve been good friends since seventh grade when we had a couple classes together. We hang out on the weekends. One of the things that really helped this team is we’re all really good friends.”
Niestrom finished with three goals and 15 assists. It was the second-highest assist total for season in Red Devils history. He ranks third in career assists with 19.
“It was a special year,” Niestrom said. “We had a great group and together we put in the time and effort during practice. We had good team camaraderie. It could’ve ended better, but at the same time we’re proud of what we did as a team.”
The praise among friends goes both ways.
“He’s a great teammate,” Bergevin said of Niestrom. “He plays hard and shows up to every practice on time. He’s great to have on the field. We’re good friends on and off the field.”
Wiggins has no doubt that Hinsdale Central will have another strong season next year, despite graduating a stellar senior class, including all-state forward Christian Meyer and all-sectional midfielder TJ Schmidt.
“One thing that we’re lucky to have is that year in and year out we get really good student-athletes that are very committed and driven,” Wiggins said. “They’re coachable and willing to put in the time and are proud to play for their school. When you take all of that, it doesn’t matter what year it is, we will always be competitive.”