Boys soccer: Learning experience, and a state trophy, for Grayslake Central
Grayslake Central's trip to the Class 2A boys state soccer tournament was the dream of a lifetime, despite the final outcome.
The Rams were after an opportunity to finish the season with a victory on Saturday, however it didn't turn how they wanted it to.
Chicago Washington defeated Grayslake Central 3-1 for third place at Hoffman Estates High School.
The Rams (14-8-2) still brought home the fourth place trophy, the first state trophy for the program.
"Now we know what we need to win it," Grayslake Central coach Keith Andersson said. "That's the big thing about losing, you learn every time. We picked up a lot of things we need to work on. We need heart and finishing. If you don't finish then you don't win."
The Rams actually had the lead early Saturday with a goal in the 11th minute as Marko Marynevych scored off a pass from Cameron Paul.
But, Washington (19-5-2) scored 3 unanswered goals, while the Rams had chances to score more early on.
"We just had nobody that had the intensity to finish on the second ball," Andersson said. "That's where it hurt us. As a team, we did get everybody in to see some young kids. The big thing for the community, soccer is on the map for us in Grayslake and it never has been. We want to start a new tradition."
The Patriots tied the game on a goal from Sebastian Ramirez in the 22nd minute. Then, two minutes later, Angel Larios found the back of the net for a 2-1 advantage.
Angelo Martinez added an insurance goal in the 65th minute for Washington.
Grayslake Central started the season with four losses and learned how to win throughout the season to make the state run.
"Honestly, after our first couple of losses to Stevenson and Libertyville, we went on a 10-game win streak," senior midfielder Ben Berry said. "I was like, we really have a lot of potential. I knew that we had a very talented team. When we played and beat St. Viator (in the postseason), I realized we had a lot of momentum. We just kept playing our game. I'm just happy to be (at state) and it was a great experience. I felt very fortunate, because only four teams make it to state. It was a great opportunity and a great way to end my senior season."
Lucas Veenstra was a big part of the Rams' history as a junior defender who helped keep the Rams' defense together all season.
"For what our school is and the first time to be here, it's really cool to be a part of history," Veenstra said. "It was very nerve-racking for the first time. We started off slowly and lost both of our games. But, it's really good to have the experience. It really was tough competition. It was like playing the first few games in the season, when we played the tough 3A teams. I thought that was tougher than these games. Certainly, the competition was up a level."