By Mike Hammersley
A 12-3-3 overall record and a sizzling 8-2-1 in conference. Five all-conference players—seniors Jim Brault, Sam Slusher, Kyle Mataloni and Mike Stankiewicz and sophomore Patryk Ruta—and the MSL Player of the East in Stankiewicz, not to mention head coach Kurt Trenkle’s MSL Coach of the Year award. And just the third shot at an MSL title in 33 years.
The turnaround is complete for Prospect’s boys’ soccer team.
The Knights play MSL West champion Palatine, who is ranked third in state, for the MSL conference championship Thursday night at Palatine. Admission will be two dollars; an ID card will not be enough for admission. Although the odds seem to be against them, Trenkle is confident in his team’s ability to win.
“It’s gonna be a great match. I’d say it’s a 50-50 game because Palatine is a really talented side, they’re the first seed in our sectional,” head coach Kurt Trenkle said. “But we beat a No. 1 seed in their sectional on Friday with the Conant win. We handled them pretty well.”
The team played Palatine earlier in the season and lost 3-0, but junior Brayhan Nunez believes that the team learned from that match.
“We went out there with an attitude that we were just going to win and go right through them,” Nunez said. “But they were good and they showed it.”
Trenkle also took many lessons away from the defeat and now knows what it will take to beat Palatine.
“We need to finish and score on the opportunities we create. In our first match, we had four or five good scoring opportunities, but the ball didn’t find the back of the net,” he said. “The second thing is that we need to defend their set pieces, like any free kick; they’re really good at deep throw-ins—usually it’s just a short toss, but they’ve got a kid who can put it right in front of the goal.”
“We’ve been defending those, and that’s really the two [areas we need to focus on]. Our game plan is to go out and do what we always do, which is to go out and play solid, mistake-free defense,” Trenkle added. “We have to do that better than we did last time against them.”