Mikah Patil wants to go to medical school after college, though he hasn’t decided what specialty to practice.
Based on what he’s done on the soccer field this fall, the Riverside-Brookfield High School senior forward might want to consider surgery.
Patil has been carving up defenses with impressive precision and admirable consistency. He has a team-leading 12 goals and seven assists as the Bulldogs (8-3-4) have already surpassed their 2014 win total.
A 5-3 loss to Romeoville on Sept. 30 snapped a nine-game unbeaten streak, which included a signature 3-1 win over reigning Class 2A state champion Wheaton Academy. The Bulldogs bounced back with a 4-1 victory against Morris on Saturday, Oct. 3.
Patil scored two goals and set up junior Nathan Juarez for the third goal against the then-unbeaten Wheaton Academy, which is now 10-3-1 and has been moved up to Class 3A this season along with the Bulldogs.
“It was the best feeling,” Patil said. “I’ve never seen a team so passionate about a win. It was ridiculous.
“We played our hearts out because we were hungry for a win. We wanted it more than they did.”
While the Bulldogs face a tough playoff road against the bigger schools in Class 3A, the win over Wheaton Academy taught them they belong.
“It was definitely a confidence-booster for us, especially because we lost to them 8-1 last year,” Juarez said. “It was good to come back to beat the state champs.”
RBHS will not be favored to win its own sectional, which includes defending 3A state champion Hinsdale Central and perennial powers Morton and Lyons Township, but the Bulldogs are aiming to advance to state for the first time.
With a player like Patil, it is not out of the question. The three-year starter was a center midfielder before being moved up top last year and scoring 11 goals.
Patil has brought his midfielder’s skills to the front line, making him equally dangerous whether he is maneuvering for a shot or passing to teammates like Juarez, who his second on the team with eight goals.
“He just knows where to go,” Juarez said. “Whenever he needs to make a move, he makes a move and he can take anyone on.
“It’s great for all of us. He gives us the ball, he has great vision and he also scores a lot for us.”
With his fancy footwork, Patil is a danger to score every time he gets the ball. His ball skills are unusually good for a forward at a relatively small school; it often appears that he has the ball on a string and he rarely loses it in traffic.
“I would say that’s my best strength overall,” Patil said. “That’s what Coach (Danny Makaric) says, what my teammates tell me, what other people tell me.”
Patil credits Makaric with teaching him those skills, but he also has received help from his father, Vikas, who played high school soccer in Ohio and is volunteer assistant coach for RBHS.
“As far as coaching him, he’s really at the top of his game now, so there’s not much coaching that I do,” the elder Patil said. “I’m just the father.”
The proud papa is guiding Patil through the college recruiting process. He has been heavily recruited by Division III colleges. Grinnell, Knox, Illinois Wesleyan, Lake Forest College and Wheaton College are among the suitors and a few Division I programs have shown interest as well.
“The coaches are all drooling over him because he’s the got the grades and the skills,” Vikas Patil said.
Patil expects to make a decision in the next couple months, but for now he’s focused on savoring his last season with his childhood friends.
“I can’t imagine not playing with this team,” Patil said. “We also play on a club team (Chicago Inter) together, so we’ve been playing since we were little kids.
“We’ve just known each other forever, so (the success comes from) that family aspect of the team.”
The Bulldogs still have things to work on. Patil was held to one assist against Romeoville (7-8), which rallied from a 2-0 deficit to score five consecutive goals.
“Mentality,” Patil said. “That’s the only thing holding us back right now because if we get scored on, we’re automatically down.”
Patil’s father wasn’t down for long after the game.
“They have been playing their best games here in the past couple weeks,” he said. “They’ve really been in top form. It’s so fun to have a front row seat to be watching it, (to) just sit back and enjoy it. Hopefully we can continue this little run.”