The Warriors finished the best season in Maine West High School soccer program’s history, 17-1-3, with a decisive victory against St. Patrick’s Shamrocks, 4-0, in their last regular season game at home on Wednesday.
The team appeared energized after the win, despite a recent change in the lineup and coaching staff, and a game that was as much about playing through emotions as it was about putting balls in the net, both of which the Warriors seemed to have no problem doing.
, and a number of players on the varsity team face disciplinary action and were barred from playing, pending an investigation by the Des Plaines Police Department and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services into reports of inappropriate conduct of several players, according to a statement from Maine Township High School District 207.
Several news media outlets have reported that incidents of hazing are being investigated and one of the suspended players gave an interview to ABC 7.
Al Matan, one of the new coaches put in charge of the varsity squad, was head coach in the 1990’s, before he took his current position as chairman of the Foreign Languages Department and ESL. Matan said because the team was now a different group of kids, with some playing different positions than they had before the changes, it would take time for them to “gel.” Of the things the Warriors did well on Wednesday, Matan said they were able to enjoy the game even though it was a trying time.
“I think it’s the emotional state that the kids are in, I think they were able to play through that tonight,” Matan said. "Seeing a lot of their friends leave, but still, once they got to the field, they saw the love for the game, and they knew what it would take to put some goals in the net. It was nice to see that, it was really nice.”
Nelson Herrera, a junior forward for the Warriors, knocked in the team’s second goal for the night with 7:13 left in the first period, assisted by Alonso Guerrero. That was Herrera’s 25th goal for the season, topping the school record for goals in a season he set last season with 24. Hererra has 56 goals in his career at Maine West so far, another record he currently holds.
A soft-spoken Herrera said after the game that he was aware of the record, but it was more important to him for the team to win.
“We were missing a lot of people, but we have to keep our head up and just play and not give up,” Herrera said.
Joshua DeLeon, a senior defender, scored the Warrior’s first goal in the contest with 9:43 to go in the first period off a penalty kick.
Herrera scored the second goal, and then, in the second half, assisted both Edgar Felix and John DeLeon to two more scores for the Warriors.
Maine West will face the winner of the game between Steinmetz High School and Taft High School at Niles North High School on Tuesday for the first regional game. There are two regional games, two sectional games and a super-sectional game before teams reach the state championship.