Boys Soccer Plan for Regionals


Myah Strokosch

Mustangs wish the Zion-Benton Zee Bees good luck before their game on September 9.

Emily Ollendick, Staff Reporter

Regionals are coming up for boys soccer, and this is the hardest part of the season as every team fights to stay in the playoffs.

Regionals consists of four teams from a particular region who play against each other to move on to the next level– sectionals, then super-sectionals and then state.  While moving up the levels is one of the team’s goals, Varsity Head Coach Ernie Billittier had another goal in mind.

“Our team’s goal this year is to win a trophy,” he said.

This season they have had several opportunities to do so. They had a chance in the Glenbrook South Tournament but lost in the semis against Wheeling (1-0).

Billittier said they are left with conference, where they are currently in second place, and Billittier further added, “Then there is regionals, and I think that is our biggest focus.”

In the past four years, the boys have made it to the regional championship every time but have fallen short each time. Last year they lost to Waukegan 4-0.

Billittier said that he doesn’t think it’s the team’s technical ability that is holding them back because they have had winning records continuously, but the mental aspect of the game and the preparation need improvement.

“We have changed our practice techniques,” Billittier said.

Billittier explained that he noticed that the team was starting games slowly and giving up goals in the first ten minutes. To counteract that, Billittier said that “when the players start[ed] showing up to the field [at practice], we put them in groups right away, and we start[ed].”

As a way to improve player mental focus, they didn’t wait for all the players to be there to start practice.

The strategy seems to be working.

On Tuesday, Sept. 27, the team scored against the Lake Forest Scouts within the first 5 minutes and later won the game 7-1.

“We are making the practices more high tempo and game-like,” said Elliot Sachnoff, senior player.

He added that this strategy is also meant to keep the players more focused during practice.

“We are a super close team. Everyone goes hard at practice,” said Goalkeeper Eric Muniz, senior. “We all try to motivate each other to get better.”

This mindset allows the team to be more connected on the field.

“No one puts themselves on a pedestal,” Billittier said.

In other words, the team treats everyone as equals, no matter how much skill the players do or do not have.

“We don’t have many guys that have a player-centered attitude” said Billittier. “We have a lot of guys who have a team-first attitude.”

The team-first attitude boosts the team’s confidence as well.

“We don’t worry about the other team and their record because we know we can compete with anyone,” Sachnoff said.

According to Billittier, the top opponents the boys have and want to beat include their whole conference–Libertyville, Waukegan, state champs, conference champs, regional champs.

He mentioned Libertyville and Waukegan specifically because these two teams are the biggest rivals, considering how competitive each is and how nail-biting the games are when they play each other.

“Every time we play [Libertyville] we call it the battle on 176,” said Muniz. “Every time we play them the games get pretty intense.”

There’s a lot of rivalry within this section, and beating top opponents would make it that much easier for the boys to achieve more.

Sachnoff said, “We go into every game with a mentality not ‘hoping to win’ but that we ‘will win’.”