Kits hope to break three year losing streak against Waukegan

The grind never stops.

The boys soccer team have an intense week of practice ahead of them as they prepare for their showdown against the Waukegan Bulldogs on Sept. 24.

“We always look forward to the Waukegan game because they have always presented a challenge in the past, explained senior forward Ricardo Ramirez. “What makes it worse is we’ll be playing them away, so we’ll need everyone to step up.”

Leading the troops will be starting center forward Erick Balthazar. Balthazar, who has played on the varsity team since his sophomore year, knows the importance of beating Waukegan this year more than anyone.

“He shows his teammates how to win,” said Calixte.

In addition to Balthazar, the team will rely on its captains to set the tone against the Bulldogs. Three-year starting keeper Adam Masters, forward Jesus Villaseñor and midfielders Christyan De La Cruz and Adam Trujillo will all be wearing the captain’s armband when the boys take the field against Waukegan.

“Traditionally we would never have four captains on the varsity squad, but every time we [the coaching staff] came to just three players as possible candidates, we felt as if we couldn’t leave the fourth out,” said Calixte.

Being well aware of the challenge that Waukegan poses, Calixte has implemented new tactics that may seem painfully simple, but will be necessary for a strong result.

The boys will attempt to control the flow of the game by keeping the ball on the Bulldogs’ side of the pitch. Doing so will place pressure on the Bulldog defense and midfield, and leave them little room for error.

In years past the team has struggled with creating chances when against Waukegan due to their lack of ball control throughout the game, so this new strategy will hopefully curb this issue.

The Kits have seen a plethora of injuries hit their players so far this season. Worst among the injuries was Villaseñor’s concussion that resulted in a trip to the ER and three medical staples during the game against Conant.

“Keeping our kids healthy and safe is always our number one goal, but when one of players went down our kids were ready to step up,” commented Calixte.

Despite the injury problems, the Kits are off to one of their best starts in years, boasting a 9-0-1 record and a fifth place ranking in state. However, the boys want even more.

“Being fifth in state is a big honor but we won’t let that change our style or mindset in the slightest,” said Trujillo. “I know we can be number one in state if we continue the good offense and even better defense.”

See photos here!