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U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

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With new mindset, boys soccer team makes a comeback

Alula+Teklu+runs+toward+the+ball+at+super-sectionals+on+Oct.+28.+Despite+a+rough+start+to+their+season%2C+the+boys+soccer+team+made+a+comeback%2C+becoming+the+second+team+in+U-High+soccer+history+to+win+sectionals.+Their+season+ended+in+a+2-1+loss+at+super-sectionals.%C2%A0
Eli Raikhel
Alula Teklu runs toward the ball at super-sectionals on Oct. 28. Despite a rough start to their season, the boys soccer team made a comeback, becoming the second team in U-High soccer history to win sectionals. Their season ended in a 2-1 loss at super-sectionals. 

Underneath the shining lights of Jackman Field, the boys soccer players had their sights set. Playing against Northridge Preparatory School at the start of the season, the team was controlling the game, feeling strong. 

But the tide soon changed. First it was one missed penalty kick. Then it was losing a few scoring chances. A tying goal from the opposition sent the game into overtime, and Northridge soon scored yet another. 

The clock ran out, and the scoreboard showed a 2-1 loss. U-High players walked quietly off the field, disappointed. At this moment the seniors on the team knew something had to change. 

This game represented all of the adversity the team had faced in the beginning of its season: a constant uphill battle driven by small mistakes and mental errors. Despite this rough start, the team made a comeback, becoming just the second team in U-High soccer history to win sectionals and make it to the super-sectional round, ending the season on Oct. 28.

“We didn’t start off too well. After that first game, it was just a consistent stream of losses,” forward Alula Teklu, a senior, said. “Our identity as a team was still very ambiguous.”

Alula said this struggle persisted through the first five weeks of the season, and little seemed to improve. He said a win was constantly followed by several losses. 

It was always like, this could be our last practice. This could be our last game. We’ve got to extend the season. That kind of hunger of just being together and being a family just kept us going.

— Erik Linquist

Erik Linquist, one of the team’s three captains, said he found that soccer was not about winning.

“I myself had to find a different purpose to showing up to practice everyday, being with the people I really like, and just playing the game I like, not necessarily winning.”

Something clicked. Partway through the season, after a conversation with the coaches, the seniors established a new mission and purpose for the team. Erik said this was sparked by the impact they wanted to have on the greater team.

“This is our last season — we had to make a mark,” Erik said. “It was always like, this could be our last practice. This could be our last game. We’ve got to extend the season. That kind of hunger of just being together and being a family just kept us going.”

After losing the homecoming game against Lake Forest Academy on Sept. 22, the players persisted, determined to finish the season strong.

“I said, ‘We have four games left in the regular season. We need to win three out of the next four games,” Coach Josh Potter said about the team’s chances to qualify for the postseason.

They did exactly that: first a win against Francis W. Parker School, another win to North Shore Country Day, a draw with Latin School of Chicago and a win against North Ridge. 

Mr. Potter said these games instilled in the players a sense of understanding of their own skill.

“I think that momentum and that belief really carried us into the playoffs,” Mr. Potter said.

The team continued their winning streak at the biggest game of the season: the IHSA Sectional Semi-Finals on Oct. 20 against Chicago Hope Academy, the state’s No. 1 ranked team in the 1A division. It was a close game; many close calls and risky plays dictated the second half. 

They enjoy each other. That’s what brought them together every single day. In our sport, you can’t just have one person buy in. Every single one of them has to show up.

— Josh Potter, head coach

“I think it is no stretch to say they were a higher quality team than us,” Alula said, “but when it really came down to it, we were the side that wanted it more.”

A week after, the team headed into the sectional final against Victoria Soto High as the underdogs and won. The season ended the following week in a 2-0 loss in the IHSA super-sectional game against North Shore Country Day on Oct. 28. The overall season record was 10 wins, 9 losses and 3 ties.

“At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter going into the playoffs how the beginning of the season was,” Erik said. “I wouldn’t change anything in terms of what we won or our record or anything like that.”

One thing that never wavered was the bond between players. Mr. Potter believes their ability to fight back each day was due to their leadership and heart within the greater team.

Mr. Potter said, “They enjoy each other. That’s what brought them together every single day. In our sport, you can’t just have one person buy in. Every single one of them has to show up.”



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About the Contributors
Katie Sasamoto-Kurisu
Katie Sasamoto-Kurisu, Editor-in-Chief
Katie Sasamoto-Kurisu is a member of the Class of 2024 and serves as an editor-in-chief. She joined the staff as a sophomore in the 2021-22 year. Working on a team, meeting new people while writing stories and learning new skills are her favorite parts of being a journalist. Her favorite piece she has written is “Helping hand: Bronzeville church gives back for Thanksgiving.” In addition to journalism, Katie enjoys competitive swimming, reading and ring-collecting. Awards: 2024 Scholastic Press Association of Chicago, community story: superior 2024 Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Circle Award: First place, sports news, “UChicago economics study tests baseball team” 2024 Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Circle Award: Certificate of merit, news page design (Page 2) 2023 Journalism Education Association National Student Media Contests, San Francisco convention: Honorable mention, online package 2022 Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Circle Award: Briefs writing, first place (with Chloë Alexander, Louis Auxenfans, Joaquin Figueroa, Chloe Ma, Amy Ren), Vol. 98, Issue 8 (March 10, 2022), Page 3
Eli Raikhel
Eli Raikhel, Photographer
Eli Raikhel is a photographer and a member of the Class of 2025. His favorite part of photojournalism is taking pictures of school events. Outside of photojournalism, Eli enjoys playing soccer and playing with his dog.

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