For the Lincoln-Way East High School boys’ varsity soccer team, soccer isn’t just a sport — it’s a brotherhood.
The Griffins finished their 2012-2013 season in the first round of sectional play with a 15-3-6 record, after winning both the conference and regional titles.
“It was really about mentality and leadership,” said head coach Ryan Decker. “This team had focus.”
The team set a new school record during the season, allowing 16 goals in 24 games, 12 of which were shutouts.
Decker credits the team’s strong defense for the season’s successes, as well as the Griffins’ ability to score on corner kicks, throw-ins and free kicks.
Decker took particular pride in seeing the team unseat previous three-year conference champs Carl Sandburg High School with a 2-1 victory on Oct. 4.
Scoring in the run of play has been a challenge for the Griffins throughout the season. Decker says inconsistency with scoring was the reason for the team’s 1-0 sectional loss to Lincoln-Way Central on Oct. 24.
The Griffins set records this season in spite low participation. Only 43 of the 2,200 students enrolled at Lincoln-Way East play with the boys’ soccer program. Decker said team members sometimes logged more play time that they should have, particularly during a two week stretch where the team played 12 games over the course of 14 days.
“They just put their head down and made it happen,” he said.
Student leadership played a significant role in strengthening the resilience of the Griffins this season. Decker praised the leadership of captain and all-state player Jim Ralph and that of captain Mike Roth.
Ralph cited the importance of brotherhood as a catalyst for the team’s success.
“We’re friends on and off the field,” said Ralph, a senior at Lincoln-Way East. “We play for each other, with each other.”
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