In a memorable scene from the film Training Day, Denzel Washington utters the following lines to rookie cop Ethan Hawke, “In order to protect the sheep – you’ve got to go after the wolves. And to get the wolves – you’ve got to be a wolf. Are you a wolf or a sheep?”
While the tone of those lines was deadly serious, Riverside-Brookfield soccer coach Danny Makaric paraphrased the wolf-sheep comparison for timely comedic effect during the Bulldogs’ 5-0 rout of Glenbard South in the RB Regional championship game last week.
“Before every game, we usually say a prayer and then I like to make a joke to help the players relax,” Makaric said in his deep Croatian accent. “I am the wolf and they are sheep on this team, so they better listen to me or I am going to eat them.”
After his players were done cracking up from the pre-game hilarity, RB (14-6-2, 6-0 Metro Suburban Conference) proceeded to play well in the first half against the visiting Raiders even though the game was scoreless at the break.
“At halftime, the boys appeared nervous and I didn’t say anything at first,” Makaric added. “We were dominating the play and had plenty of shots, so I told them don’t worry because the goals will come. In fact, I told them once we score one goal, we’ll get five [goals].”
Makaric proved prophetic as forward Frank Kaczmarczyk’s goal ten minutes into the second half opened the flood gates for RB. Santiago Beltran followed with a pair of goals, including a rocket from 30 yards out, while Stephen Lechuga and Jack Fieseler netted a goal apiece. Joe Aieta also served as key to the victory, shutting down the Raiders’ top forward.
“When Frank scored his goal, I think it lifted everybody’s spirits,” said Beltran, the team’s leading scorer this season. “We started rolling and really played well. We’re really excited about moving on to the [Wheaton Academy] Sectional. St. Joe’s is always a big rivalry game.”
The Bulldogs are looking for some payback considering the Chargers have knocked them out of the playoffs the previous two years. The semifinal was scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 23 (after deadline). The winner advances to Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. sectional title match.
“I have a good feeling about the game,” Makaric said. “St. Joe is a very physical team, but our boys are confident we can win the game.”
The regular season was another success under Makaric’s guidance coupled with a roster of talented players. Since taking over the program in 2002, Makaric has coached the Bulldogs to six Metro Suburban Conference championships along with several regional titles.