Riverside-Brookfield head soccer coach Danny Makaric aptly described it as one of the greatest games in Bulldogs soccer history. It’s too bad for RB that St. Joseph emerged the winner of last week’s Class 2A Regional Championship.
The host Bulldogs slugged it out for four overtimes before succumbing to a 2-1 defeat.
Playing before a packed house at Shuey Stadium, RB fell behind 1-0 a few minutes into the game. The Bulldogs managed to bounce back, though, tying the score at 1-1 on forward Zach Tarrant’s goal 18 minutes into the second half. Tarrant’s tally came after Santiago Beltran made a pass to the Bulldogs’ top scorer/midfielder Ruben Chavez, who blasted a shot on goal. Tarrant capitalized on a second opportunity rebound goal, beating the Chargers’ goalkeeper.
With four minutes remaining in the fourth overtime, St. Joseph scored the game-winning goal from about 20 yards out to end the Bulldogs’ season in dramatic fashion.
“We played very well and dominated the ball for most of the game,” Makaric said. “The kids took the loss very hard. There were some tears because our players care so much about the game. You have to give St. Joe’s credit, but we felt we were the better team.”
Despite the disappointing postseason end, RB produced a wonderful season highlighted by a Metro Suburban Conference title and a regional championship won at home. Riverside-Brookfield clinched the conference with a 4-3 win over Glenbard South in early October. The Bulldogs also displayed tremendous resilience by winning 11 of their last 16 games to finish 11-8-2 (5-1 Metro Suburban Conference) after a 0-5 start to their campaign.
Chavez capped off his stellar RB career by scoring 22 goals and dishing out 12 assists this year. Beltran, who also served as the Bulldogs’ kicker on the football team, netted 11 goals this fall.
“It’s tough losing a great scorer like Ruben and our other seniors,” Makaric said, “but I am excited about next season. We have some good players returning and a lot of talented players coming up from our sophomore and freshman teams, as well as our feeder program for the future. The [RB] soccer program is very strong.”
In addition to Beltran, Makaric welcomes back Eddie Marentes, Thomas Leary, Jake Fieseler and Quentin Dreilich to lead RB next season. The RB sophomore team also won conference this season.
Other players worth noting who assumed key roles in the Bulldogs’ successful run this year include goalkeeper Max Ohle along with midfielders Jon Kingzette and Ivan Jukic.