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Morton Boys Soccer Wins Pepsi Showdown Tournament

The Mustangs extend their undefeated streak with a tournament championship victory over St. Charles North.

Roberto Rodriguez, Staff Writer

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The J. Sterling Morton Varsity Boys Soccer team celebrates with the tournament trophy after winning the Pepsico Showdown. (Photo courtesy Pepsico)

On a rainy Sunday at Stuart Field at IIT, the undefeated Morton Mustangs Boys Soccer team continued their undefeated streak of dominance with a 2-1 win over the St. Charles North Stars to take home the crown of the Pepsi Showdown Championship Sept. 25.

The game started with a lot of possession from the Mustangs controlling most of the first half, when tragedy struck at the 21st minute of the first half with a goal from North Stars, who entered the tournament 9-1-3 in competitive play this year.

However, a very determined Morton side kept its composure and responded with a goal at the the 37th minute from Forward Adan Carriedo. The contest remained tied through most of the second half, until a game-winning goal at the 77th minute from Baltazar Duran broke the tie game into a 2-1 win for the Mustangs.

After the game, Coach Mike Caruso said, “I just think we stayed the course, they scored first, we didn’t panic we just kept working and working and we tied the game and then once we tied it we kept working and working. For the second goal, we had a couple of close chances but then we got the second goal and then we defended like Morton can all the way to the final whistle. I just think we played great as a team today.”

Duran reiterated that success for his game-winning goal hinged on the support of the team. “Well first of all I want to thank my team for supporting me off and on the field. Well, honestly is just that feeling where you feel proud of yourself and excited… it’s is hard to explain. Honestly it’s just [one of] those special moments that you want to happen all the time. It felt amazing.”

The Mustangs have had significant success this year, posting a record of 13-0-1 as of Sept. 26. Left back Rodrigo Gutierrez believes that once the team hits its stride, this season could be a memorable one.

“The team right now isn’t at its fullest but we are getting there game by game,” Gutierrez said.

Early season struggles – including a close 2-1 win over Downers Grove South – have helped the team develop resiliency and character, according to Center back Marco Sanchez.

“Our toughest game has to be against DGS,” Sanchez said. “The team is all around great, starting with the goalie and ending with the strikers. They have no flaws and it was a big challenge for us. We stepped up big that game and won during overtime.”

Recalling another of the team’s earlier struggles, Sanchez noted, “Starting off there was a little bump in the beginning tying against Naperville Central. Since then we improve game by game, overcoming the things that caused us to have the bumps. Now we’ve been on a winning streak since. Now we’re #1 in the nation and state. The success is great for us.”

The team has big goals this year, trying to exceed the performance from last year’s team, which took 3rd place in state finals. Forward Giovannie Ortiz said this year’s team knows they have big shoes to fill, but they believe they can go all the way this year and bring back the state championship. “The team practices a good 2 hours each and every practice looking for things to get better on or things we need to improve on,” Ortiz said.

“If there is something I’ve noticed during the past years, it’s that a leader was never really on the pitch to get the boys ready or make sure they had the right mindset going into games and I feel me being the captain I’ll make sure they are focused and know what we’re striving [for].”

 

 

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The digital magazine of J. Sterling Morton West High School
Morton Boys Soccer Wins Pepsi Showdown Tournament