Early goals lead Boys Soccer to 2-0 win over Evanston for first regional title since 2016


Alex Burstein

Boys Soccer poses with their championship plaque after winning regionals.

By Alex Burstein, Editor-in-Chief

In their regional semifinal victory over Loyola Academy, Lane Tech Boys Soccer held the lead for just 42 seconds. Just four days later, the story was a little different.

Fifteen minutes into the game, Lane took the early lead. They held that lead for the next 65 minutes until the final whistle blew.

“I think maintaining the lead and not being complacent is difficult,” Lane Boys Soccer Acting Head Coach Sam Veren said. “But obviously having a lead is helpful and you can focus on building it and then protecting the lead.”

Lane was able to both expand their lead and protect it, as the No. 8 seed Champions avenged a penalty kick loss to the Evanston Wildkits in last year’s regional final. This time, Lane defeated the Wildkits 2-0, giving Lane their first regional title since 2016 and ending the season for No. 2 seed Evanston earlier than expected.

Lane’s offense was strong to start the game, getting a solid shot from Mauro Ruiz that sailed just wide less than two minutes in.

Both teams traded close attempts and offside penalties early before Lane found an early breakthrough. 

After Benjamin Dopp dribbled into the left corner, he passed into the penalty box to Alan Zavala, who deflected the ball in the air to Henry Winston. Winston headed the ball from near the front of the goal into the back of the net.

“I didn’t even watch it go in the net,” Winston said. “I just turned around and I started screaming and running to [my team]. But it was a reaction goal. It felt great.”

The 15th-minute goal established the 1-0 lead that Lane would play with for most of the first half.

Evanston played with increased intensity after falling behind, but Lane’s defense held strong. The Wildkits were kept away from the goal box, for the most part, forcing them to take many shots from far outside.

It looked like Lane would head into the half with just a one-goal lead, until Ethan Peet launched a through-pass across midfield to Colin DuRoss. DuRoss received the ball around the 30-yard line, streaking to the box, where he would finish the 37th-minute goal, his first of the season, on a one vs. one with the goalkeeper.

They were laying the pressure on before that goal, and having the two-goal cushion is important,” Veren said. “Albeit going into halftime it doesn’t feel like much of a lead, but props to Colin. I mean his composure on that goal was really nice.”

The goal gave Lane their first multi-goal lead of the state playoffs. Then, it was the defense’s time to shine.

Evanston came out of the break energized, firing shots from all around. But a mix of missed shots, impressive stops by Lane’s back line and saves from goalkeeper Gael Rodriguez kept the Wildkits off the board.

Our back line has been one of the biggest parts of our game all season, and that was massive that they were able to just hold them off all night,” Winston said.

Lane had their own chances, but the Champions weren’t able to finish any shots in the second half, it ended up not mattering. Lane’s defense held Evanston for 40 minutes, cementing the two-goal win.

I’m constantly impressed by how much work [the back line defenders] put in and how solid they are,” Veren said. “It’s always been the backbone of our team.”

Following the win, Lane celebrated with their newest piece of hardware, the regional title plaque.

It feels awesome,” Winston said. “It feels huge. Like we didn’t think we could do this. We almost did it last year and to come back, and get revenge, and get some hardware for us  it feels awesome.”

The win advances Lane to the sectional semifinals where they will play against No. 3 seed Oak Park-River Forest. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 25, at Glenbrook South.

“We know we can beat good teams, and when we work our hardest I think we’re hard to beat, so I think we don’t have to change anything,” Veren said. “We just have to keep going with this momentum.”