BRAIDWOOD — The Wilmington boys soccer team picked up a narrow 1-0 victory against Reed-Custer in IHSA regional quarterfinal play Monday. The Wildcats avenged a regular-season loss to the Comets to pick up the postseason win.
Wilmington improved to 2-17 on the season with the win. The loss ended the Comets’ season with a 1-18 record.
Sophomore midfielder Erik Ostheim found the back of the net on an assist from junior Justin Esposito with less than three minutes remaining in the first half to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead.
“On that sequence, we were moving the ball pretty well,” Ostheim said. “We beat one of Reed-Custer’s players and had a ton of open space. We played the ball to Justin, and I was able to run around a couple of defenders to put myself in a scoring position.
“Then, I received a perfect pass from Justin, and it was an easy slide and finish from there.”
Ostheim’s goal would turn out to be the game-winner for the Wildcats. Wilmington coach Travis Ivanoff said the margin of error that separates the win or loss when the two rivals play is razor-thin.
“I think if both of our teams played 10 games, each of us would win five games,” Ivanoff said. “Fortunately, today was our day. I was really pleased with our defense and how we defended some breakaway opportunities today. Things are really starting to come together for us.”
The Wildcats fell to the Comets 3-2 earlier in the season but were able to reverse the outcome in postseason play.
Ostheim said his team’s improvement from last season to now has been off the charts.
“We look a thousand times better than last season,” Ostheim added. “I’m really proud of our improvements this season, and it’s nice to see our work pay off with a postseason win. But we still have a long way to go to get to where we want to be.”
Wilmington goalkeeper Sam Dennis was excellent in the box Monday, as was the Comets’ Stephen Condreay. Dennis picked up his first career shutout in the win.
“He’s developed into a solid wall back there for us,” Ivanoff said of his goalkeeper. “He’s been tested time and time again and has always stood tall. He’s a guy everyone on our team can rely on night in and night out.”
Reed-Custer coach Andy Gleixner said Condreay has emerged as a leader in just his freshman season, something he searched for after losing 11 seniors from last year’s squad.
“He’s just a blessing to have back there,” Gleixner said. “He was a pleasant surprise this year. He had an outstanding season for us. We finished 1-17, but we would have been 0-18 if Stephen wouldn’t have done some incredible things for us. I thought he really stepped up for us as only a freshman.”
The Wildcats advance to take on Peotone at 4 p.m. today in Coal City in the Class 2A Regional quarterfinals. The Wildcats fell to the Blue Devils 7-0 a little more than a month ago, but the score was deadlocked at zero going into halftime.