The Harper College men's soccer team (4-10) is a team in search of its true identity entering Saturday's noon contest against Joliet Junior College in the semifinals of the NJCAA Division III, Region IV tournament.
The Hawks are seeded third, while Joliet is seeded second. A postseason win could change things for the better in a hurry for Harper.
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"(The record) dose not reflect the quality of team we have," said Harper coach Jason Diebold. "All I know is that we have to play on Saturday and win."
The Wolves won both previous contests between the teams this season -- a 5-0 win in Joliet to open the season in August, and a 2-0 rain soaked win at Harper.
Region IV power Triton College is the tournament's top seed. It meets the winner of Wednesday's Madison Area Technical College vs. Milwaukee Area Technical College play-in game.
Harper expects Joliet to play long balls from the midfield. To counter, the Hawks will attempt to hang onto the ball and let plays develop more slowly.
"Possesion for us is key," said Diebold, pointing out that the play at central midfield from freshman first team all N4C and Region IV selection Bryhan Braton Nunuez (Prospect) and first team all N4C Jason Palmis will be crucial. "If they're working well together, they're going to be the reason we win."
Another Harper player to keep on eye on all N4C selection freshman Jacob Velinski (Palatine). Diebold calls him a "difference-maker" out of the midfield.
One aspect of the game the Hawks have been working to improve is dead-ball situations.
"This week has probably been our best week (of practice)" Diebold said.