Boys soccer undefeated, heads into conference play


Photo courtesy of Maya Valentine

With a regular season record of 16-3-4 last fall, the boys soccer team looked like a heavy favorite to go downstate. A 3-0 loss to Oak Park-River Forest in the sectional finals ended those dreams, but with an undefeated start to this season, the Kits are looking to be right back where they left off last year.

Coach Franz Calixte’s team, one that graduated a whopping 23 seniors last season, has already jumped out to a strong 7-0-2 start. Senior captain Sam Darer emphasized the importance of new varsity members making an impact right out of the gate.

“It’s a whole new style of play but we’re looking really good this year. Every new guy on the team is playing like they’ve been on varsity before,” says Darer.

The Wildkits opened their season with a 1-1 tie against Barrington. Junior Joseph Ndahiriwe scored a tap-in goal off of a corner kick in the second half to give the Kits the lead, but Barrington responded just seconds later off the kickoff to tie the game for good. 

Days later, the Kits knocked off Waukegan 1-0. A rain delay momentarily halted the game, but after around a 20 minute pause for lightning, the Kits scored on sophomore Johnny Hunwick’s goal to seal the win.

Evanston typically has a difficult schedule to open each season, but Darer knew that they would be ready to compete from the get go. 

“We always start with a few tough games. We knew the games were gonna be tough. We just had to have the right mindset going into it. [We] can’t be lazy. It’s worked so far,” Darer states.

The week before Labor Day, Lazier Field was the host of the Evanston Invitational, a round-robin style tournament that included Jones, Walter Payton and Lake Forest Academy (LFA). Evanston cruised to a 4-1 win over Jones on Aug. 30 before tying the Caxys of LFA, 2-2, on Sept. 1. A 5-2 victory over Payton two days later was enough to win the Kits the tournament, making it the tenth year in a row the Kits have secured the title.

Although this year’s team looks almost entirely different from last season, Darer notes that many players have been with each other on club teams for most of their soccer careers.

“I think this year is gonna be really special because a lot of the guys have already been playing together for their whole life on Jahbat, or even on Chicago Fire. I’ve played with a lot of the guys even if they’re not my age group, so I think we already have a sense of familiarity, which is great,” says Darer.

With CSL conference play starting up, the Kits look to maintain their undefeated record.