Northside Men’s Soccer celebrates its Seniors with Senior Day
by S. Aleksander Black
After a rousing success by its varsity team in the conference season, the Northside men’s soccer team celebrated Senior Day on Thursday Oct. 19 with a match against Aspira.
The varsity soccer team found incredible success in its lineup this year, having their best season in the history of the program. In fact, just before Senior Day, the team defeated Amundsen 5-1 to win the IHSA Regional Championship. Over the past three months, the team finished the conference season with seven wins and not a single loss or tie. This record earned the team the title of 3rd Division North Conference Champions--a notable reward for the great efforts put forth by the men’s soccer team.
The Senior Day for men’s soccer was based around the theme “Big Balling Seniors,” which was inspired by the Big Baller Brand. The Northside team chose to use a similar logo design for their special blue shirts, which they wore while warming up for the game against Aspira. The match began at 4:30 and started slowly, as the first goal was not scored until the end of the first half. Players were cheered on by the enthusiastic crowd and the Northside Cheerleading Squad, who stood ready in uniform throughout the game to perform several chants. The first goal was scored by Noa Choi, Adv. 802, who took advantage of an opportunity created by a penalty kick. Darius Deloye, Adv. 807, quickly followed it up with a goal of his own, giving Northside a 2-0 lead at halftime. In the second half, both Northside and Aspira scored a goal, and Northside came away with a 3-1 win. Afterwards the crowd socialized while listening to music provided by a live soundbooth on the field.
Many members on the current varsity team are seniors who have been playing together for several years. Guy Lohoua, Adv. 808, attributes their strength to this trait, but also says it can cause some issues. “I think one of our strong points and best parts is that we bonded really well this year. On the field, we were definitely way more comfortable than we’ve been in past years. There were times, though, when we were so playful with each other that it was a distraction,” said Lohoua. Lohoua has played midfield for the team for all four years of high school career.
Although the team never dropped a single game during the conference season, they had their fair share of challenges. “North Grand was probably the toughest team we faced during our entire conference. We had to play them again to continue at the state level, and it was a similarly difficult game,” said Lohoua.
The men’s soccer team consistently proves to be a popular team for new players each year, but tryouts are grueling. If someone wants to join the team, “They just have to keep playing. It’s the best thing to help you. The more you play the better you’ll get regardless. Try to join clubs if you can, and, if you can’t, just go to the park or something,” said Lohoua. However, there’s more to the game than raw time invested. “You have to be able to adapt. I think adaptability on the field is the most important thing. No matter how much you practice you'll never be 100% ready for the game. But if you’re adaptable it can usually work out.” Many of the players have had experience with playing soccer prior to high school level and are no strangers to thinking on the fly during a game.
The men’s varsity team may have had an outstanding season, but this is the final year for many of them. After four long years, most of members are graduating and will be leaving the team. Yet several players expressed very little regret. “I think I feel good because this season was definitely the best Northside season ever. Definitely a good point to end on,” said Lohoua. Because of the success they’ve had in the last four years, especially this season, the Senior Day victory was a fitting way for the seniors to go out.