The Riverside-Brookfield High School boys soccer team capped off the regular season with a 3-0 loss against host Morton on Friday, Oct.13 in Berwyn. The Bulldogs held off a potent Morton attack for most of the match, but in the end fell to one of the top teams in the state.
"We played like a team and supported each other," RBHS coach Ivek Halic said. "There were a couple mistakes and some things to improve on, but overall I was very happy with the team and their progress."
Entering Friday night's clash against Morton, the Bulldogs had lost their previous four matches. Entering October, RBHS had a .500 record but this month has been difficult. With the state playoffs starting this week, the Bulldogs struggled towards the end of the regular season.
RBHS looked solid in the early going against Morton, displaying a solid defensive wall against a very strong Mustangs' attack. Although Morton held the majority of the possession during the first 10 minutes, Axel Martell, Ixtian Garcia, and the rest of the Bulldogs' defense made several stellar stops.
Morton appeared to be trying everything from dribbling through the defense to lobbing it over to cutting through balls but RBHS held strong.
In a five-minute stretch from the 15th to the 20th minute, the Bulldogs maintained possession in the Morton third of the field. The biggest threat in that span came from a push down the right sideline by the Bulldogs' Anthony Smith, but ultimately the ball was cleared away.
The 30th minute brought the first goal of the match courtesy of a cutting through ball that finally broke through the stalwart RBHS defense. The ball went to the feet of a Morton forward who was able to slip it past the RBHS goalkeeper Daniel Sessler.
Considering the prolific play from Morton, the Bulldogs did a great job of holding their own and trailing just 1-0 at halftime.
The second half began with RBHS holding possession. Senior midfielder/captain Juan Quiroz won a free kick on Morton's half of the field. Quiroz swung the ball into the box but it was cleared away which led to a Morton breakaway that was stopped short thanks to the efforts of Michael Pitts.
The Bulldogs continued to have chances throughout the second half. Their most threatening play came via a through ball from Eduardo Carrillo to Smith, who was again flying down the right sideline. Their best scoring chance so far though was stopped by the Morton defense, which then proceeded to hold possession for the next 10 minutes.
Going into the final five minutes of the match, the Mustangs still only held a tenuous one goal lead over the Bulldogs. At the 76th minute, Morton stood over a corner kick, which led to a goal when a Morton player headed the ball into the back of the net for their second goal of the match.
The game ended with another Morton corner-kick goal with only 30 seconds left in the match. The Bulldogs looked exhausted from giving it their all against Morton.
The final score certainly didn't reflect the overall effort and ability put on display by the Bulldogs.
Quiroz, an RBHS senior captain viewed the game as a "simulation" for the upcoming state playoffs.
"We just need to look at this game and see how we performed based on our competition," Quiroz said. "I think we're looking pretty good."
Halic agreed that talking on a perennial state contender Morton right before the playoffs provides an ideal tune up match
"Morton is one of the best teams in the state," Halic said. "We schedule them at the very end (of the regular season) to get us prepared for the state playoffs."
The Bulldogs host Hinsdale Central in the semifinals of the Riverside-Brookfield Regional of the Class 3A playoffs on Wednesday, Oct. 18 at 4:30 PM.