The Riverside-Brookfield High School boys soccer team has gradually improved its play over the course of the season. With the state playoffs right around the corner, the Bulldogs’ timing couldn’t be better.
Goalkeeper Daniel Sessler has been a primary contributor in causing the team’s turnaround. After the Bulldogs lost three games at the beginning of the season, Sessler recorded five shutouts and allowed only one goal during the team’s pivotal six-game winning streak in early September. RBHS outscored its opponents 17-1 over the six games.
“Individually, it’s been an up-and-down season,” Sessler said. “As a team, we’ve been slowly figuring things out. The first couple of games, we were trying to figure out what to do and how to play together. After that, we found our niche and started playing as a team.
“I feel the team chemistry has surpassed expectations,” he added. “We are going to be ready for the playoffs and show some surprises.”
During the offseason, Sessler plays club soccer for Chicago Inter. He’s played goalkeeper since sixth grade.
Soccer runs in the Sessler family. Daniel’s older sister, Kathryn, also played soccer at RBHS under former head coach Danny Makaric. His younger brother, Will, is a seventh grader at SE Gross who plays soccer as well for his school and Chicago Inter.
In addition to soccer, Sessler is on the RBHS varsity basketball team. He started basketball playing for the Junior Bulldogs in the fourth grade and enjoys being a two-sport athlete.
“It’s really special,” said Sessler, who lives in Brookfield. “The coaches are great. This year, I get to play with some players who are fun to be around.”
Although he’s undecided about which college he wants to attend, the 6-foot-2 junior wants to play soccer at that level.
“Just communicating with several different coaches has been cool and exciting,” he said. “At a camp, I talked with a coach from Brown (University). I’ll attend a camp there next summer.”
Away from the soccer field, Sessler leads the life of a typical teenager. He enjoys hanging out with friends, playing video games and watching television and movies.
However, his immediate attention is focused on a strong finish to the soccer season.
While Sessler is a standout goalkeeper, his teammates offer ample support. Seniors Aaron Palmer, Daniel Villegas, Oscar Rojas and Kyle Paeth are key contributors for the Bulldogs. Juniors Garrett Foy and Trace Haage have also made an impact on the field, as well as talented sophomore Xander Sanchez.
“It’s been a great group of players that has been very supportive and encouraging to each other,” RBHS coach Ivek Halic said earlier this season. “The team dynamic has definitely contributed to our success so far this season.”
Win or Go Home
In terms of the postseason, RBHS is hosting a Class 2A sectional. The field features several excellent teams, including five of the top six teams coming from the West Suburban Conference. Top-seed Morton, No. 2 Hinsdale Central, No. 3 Lyons Township, No. 4 Oak Park and River Forest and No. 6 Downers Grove (and No. 5 Whitney Young) all have a shot at winning the sectional.
The Bulldogs are seeded eighth in their sectional.
RBHS faced Downers Grove South on Tuesday, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. (passed deadline) in the semifinals of the Morton Regional. The host Mustangs played the winner of Lincoln Park vs. Proviso West on the same day at 5 p.m.
“We have not won a regional in a few years,” Sessler said. “That’s our main goal. We have to beat a good Downers Grove South team and then eventually the No. 1 seed in Morton. It would be a well-deserved regional title.”