Boys Soccer: DeLuca back in the driver’s seat at Vernon Hills
Updated: October 1, 2012 4:04PM
It could be said that Vince DeLuca has come full circle as a Vernon Hills soccer coach.
He was the boys team’s head coach 10 years ago, when the Cougars played on a grass field — with no stadium. In 2002, that team lost its first game. When DeLuca took over the program again this year, he delivered a message.
“I don’t want to go 0-2. I’d appreciate it if we won one of these,” he said.
And that’s what the Cougars proceeded to do, beating St. Patrick 3-0 in the first boys soccer game on the new turf field, as part of the Cougar Classic.
An assistant coach with Libertyville the past few seasons, DeLuca takes over the head coaching reigns at VH from Shannon Etnyre. The Cougars have never won more than eight games in a season, a total they reached under DeLuca in ’02.
After sweeping through the Cougar Classic — winning four games in four days, ending Saturday — VH is halfway to reaching that milestone. DeLuca believes his players are ready to continue that trend.
“It’s big for the program and the kids,” DeLuca said about winning the Cougar Classic for the first time. “Ultimately, our goal was to prepare to get to the championship. It was nice to finish it. I’m very proud.”
Vernon Hills will use more of its bench under DeLuca’s watch, which was evident during the Cougar Classics. Six Cougars accounted for the team’s 10 goals. Such emphasis on roster depth and player development is an indication the program is headed in the right direction with the old/new guy in charge.
“There’s been a change in attitude for the kids, and the credit goes to them for believing in the system we brought in,” said DeLuca, who’s also the Vernon Hills girls soccer head coach. “We still have a long way to go.??
Recap: One play during the team’s tournament semifinal win over Grayslake Central on Saturday embodied the Cougars’ new, aggressive style.
With the game tied at 2-2, and starting goalkeeper Jonathan Ramirez out with a concussion, DeLuca and assistant coach Lindsay Mathiesen decided to move starting midfielder Matthew Tabrizi up to forward. It worked, as Evan Borden dribbled a ball up the right side, got inside the goalie box and slipped a pass to a net-crashing Tabrizi, who nailed the game-winner with 1:30 left in the second half.
“It marked a change of attitude of the team a little bit, and a belief they can finish games,” DeLuca said.
In the championship match game against Zion-Benton later Saturday afternoon, Borden scored two goals as the Cougars won 2-1. Ricardo Ceja assisted on one of the goals.
Vernon Hills defeated Richmond Burton 2-1 on Aug. 23. Jeremy Cohen and Jose Perez-Silva both scored. A day prior, the Cougars beat St. Patrick. Cohen, Borden and Randy Veloz scored for the winners.
Off the notepad: Borden had a great first week, scoring four goals. The 6-foot-1 senior, an all-conference selection, will play forward this season after patrolling center midfield in 2011. Vernon Hills has able replacements in Tabrizi, a senior, and junior David White.
Manning the midfield is returning starter Cohen, and sophomore Bradley Burrows. Senior forward Michael Hayibor is the first man off the bench.
Vernon Hills starts the season with a two-man rotation at goalkeeper. Ramirez and David Ortiz will share time, although Ortiz will play the bulk of the minutes while Ramirez recovers from a concussion.
Lakes, Round Lake and Grant are the perennial leaders in the North Suburban Conference Prairie. With more depth and experience on board, Vernon Hills just might break through this year.
“I told the kids we aren’t going to look back at the last couple of years, we look toward this year,” DeLuca said. “Our (division) is very competitive. That’s the games you want to do well.”
On the schedule: The Cougars visit Wheeling on Saturday.~