Boys soccer: Draw vs. Hoffman Estates can't spoil WW South's celebration
Wheaton Warrenville South's boys soccer players knew what Saturday afternoon's nonconference game against visiting Hoffman Estates meant to coach Guy Callipari.
With roughly 90 alumni taking photographs before the game, during and most likely long into the night, WW South celebrated the program's 50th season with a 0-0 draw.
"Coach is definitely letting us know how big of a deal this is," said senior right back and captain Sean Tully. "I mean, he likes to make a big deal out of things, but this is like to the next level. So it's really fun to be a part of it and see how much it means to everyone else."
After the game the party moved into the school commons, which was decked out for a meet and greet and dinner, followed by more socializing at nearby Arrowhead Golf Club.
"Yeah, I think we're all going to be here till pretty late," Tully said with a chuckle.
"It doesn't happen without a lot of help," said Callipari, in his 29th season in charge of the program. "I almost was in tears when I walked into the building and the moms had been there since 8 o'clock and the place looked like I had never seen it."
The Tigers noticed.
"He's really just proud of his program and everything that we've done, and he wants to keep it going," Tully said.
With a strong 22 mph wind blowing over the south goal at their backs in the second half, the Tigers pressed to complete the celebration with a victory. A 58th-minute Kevin Stumbris shot blew over Hawks senior goalkeeper Danny Lopez and looked like it might bounce into the net. Instead it bounced over the crossbar.
A 75th-minute side volley from the Tigers' Niklas Pedersen from 10 yards hit the right post. And Lopez made a diving save on Christian Munoz's shot in the 76th minute.
"We really wanted it. We were so close," Tully said. "I'm just proud of us. We really put a lot of effort in there."
"Lopez made a phenomenal save," Hawks coach Sean Armstrong added.
Meanwhile, Hoffman Estates (4-14-3) was happy to play spoiler of a sort.
"I thought we moved the ball real well. It's just once we get in that back third, it's been very difficult all year for us. We've dominated possession most games and for some reason we look for the perfect shot rather than trying to put shots on goal and seeing what happens," Armstrong said.
But even a draw couldn't mar the party the Tigers had been planning for so long.
"It's just a big day, and it's unfortunate we didn't get the sweetness of the win," said Callipari, also the longtime coach of the Tigers girls team, "but we didn't have the loss either, so at this point in time we're even if everything else stays the same for the evening."