Naperville Central High School's award-winning newspaper.

Central Times

Naperville Central High School's award-winning newspaper.

Central Times

Naperville Central High School's award-winning newspaper.

Central Times

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Boys soccer adapts to loss of top goalscorers

Senior+forward+Jonathan+Stohner+fights+for+the+ball+with+Sandburg+opponent+during+a+game+that+resulted+in+a+Central+win+on+Aug.+31.+Stohner+is+one+of+the+few+Varsity+players+in+their+same+position+as+last+year.+
Jake Pfeiffer
Senior forward Jonathan Stohner fights for the ball with Sandburg opponent during a game that resulted in a Central win on Aug. 31. Stohner is one of the few Varsity players in their same position as last year.

Central’s boys soccer team began their season 5-2-2, a year after winning the IHSA 4A State Championship last year.

The team has struggled to replace the goal-scoring production of their top five goal scorers from last season, according to Assistant Coach Mike Ortiz. Four of those players graduated, while their top goal-scorer, then-Freshman Chase Adams, now plays for the youth squad of the MLS’s (Major League Soccer’s) Columbus Crew.

“[Adams and then-senior] Joey LoDuca both scored somewhere in the 20-goal range,” Ortiz said. “We’ve never had, in the history of our program, two goal scorers in the 20-plus range. And [then-senior] Nathan Kwon scored 15 goals, and our usual high scorer is in that 15-goal range and he was third for us. It just tells you how different of a year it was. So we lost those three, and then our next two leading scores after that.”

The team has tried to replace that goal-production by moving players around.

“Of our veterans, most of them are either defensive midfielders or just flat out backs,” Ortiz said. “We’re trying to figure things out- [we’re moving around] people that we’ve normally depended on in one area which has been a strength for us in order to see if they can help contribute differently. We’re still trying to sort it out.”

Senior Patrick Berryman, one of soccer’s four team captains, was one of the players who switched positions to start the season; after playing as an outside back for two years, Berryman was asked to play as a midfielder.

“I was excited,” Berryman said. “It’s something I’m not used to, but I was confident enough in myself enough to be able to take on that challenge. Outside backs don’t get as many touches on the ball, whereas in the midfield, you’re controlling the game more or less. It was great to not only receive that increase in trust from my coach to be one of those guys controlling the game, but also to be able to take on that challenge and see how I could do.”

Ortiz credited the players’ willingness to move around.

“Some of those guys are not necessarily accustomed to doing what we’re asking them to do, but they have a good attitude about it, and then they’ve embraced the chance to try something different to help us try to be successful,” Ortiz said.

Beyond simply moving players around, the team has also tried out new formations to best utilize their players.

“Traditionally, at least for the last eight seasons, we’ve always had three forwards up top, putting a lot of pressure on their backline with that constant presence of numbers forward,” Ortiz said. “This year, we’ve been mostly defensive. It’s been more of a 4-5-1, but that hasn’t been every game. In the last two games we’ve tried what you could call a 4-4-2, but it’s really a 4-2-2-2. We’re kind of stacking the middle and working from there.”

New formations have led to new problems as well: the 4-2-2-2 formation Central rolled out in a game against Evanston led to defensive issues which caused Central to allow two goals in the first eight minutes, Ortiz said. The team went on to lose the game 5-1.

“[The new formation] has led to other issues that are not related to attack, like defensive breakdowns,” Ortiz said. “We can’t have that when we’re trying to figure things out offensively. So when we went back in the second half to 4-3-3, which kids are more familiar with. So even though that may not necessarily be what we need to be productive in the attack, it did resolve some issues just due to familiarity. Kids are so familiar with a 4-3-3 in our program and it was easy for us to [play in] after we had made that adjustment. It was 1-1 in the second half, so we were better.”

Central is still looking for a play style that best fits the team, although according to Berryman, the team is planning on staying in the 4-3-3 formation for the near future.

“In the early going we’re sacrificing somewhere as we’re growing and we’re trying to figure it out,” Ortiz said. “But we’re just trying to figure out what’s going to be best where we can be successful all the way around, not just trying to solve the scoring issue.”

Despite the growing pains, the team is still playing with a goal of winning the DVC (Dupage Valley Conference) and making it to the IHSA Super-Sectional this year.

“Knowing what we know now, I think we’re better prepared and we can find a way to win the conference,” Berryman said.

Central will have to beat Naperville North in order to have a chance at winning the DVC. Central lost to North 5-0 on Sept. 2, but is set to play them again on Sept. 19.

“Knowing what we know now, after having at least one match under our belt against North, I think we can be a little bit better suited to play them again,” Berryman said. “I don’t think it’ll be another five zero loss. I think we’re better prepared and we can find a way to win the conference.”

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About the Contributor
Jake Pfeiffer
Jake Pfeiffer, Editor-in-Chief
Jake Pfeiffer is a senior, entering his third year on the Central Times staff, this time as Editor-in-Chief. Jake joined CT as a sophomore because he wanted to write news, but since then he has grown to love just about every element of journalism. While it is rare to see Jake anywhere other than the CT office, occasionally you can find him captaining Central’s debate team, watching baseball, listening to a seemingly endless amount of podcasts or drowning in college applications.
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