Boys Soccer: Westminster Christian primed for postseason

Story Image Westminster Christian's Will Woodhouse (front left) hugs Robert Kleczynski after Kleczynski scored a goal last season. The Warriors are ready for the 2012 postseason to get under way. | Andrew A. Nelles~For Sun-Times Media

Updated: October 2, 2012 6:06PM

What kind of difference can a year make? Westminster Christian has quietly set itself up to answer that question in the loudest and most promising manner as the 2012 Class 1A playoffs begin Friday.

Led by the most prolific scorer in school history, the 2011 Warriors expected to make a lengthy postseason run only to be upset in their regional opener and end Josh Beachler’s stellar run with 101 career goals.

Now featuring a stingier defense and a more balanced offense, Westminster Christian is both the host and top seed for a regional which begins Friday with Harvest Christian facing Christian Liberty for the right to face the Warriors next Tuesday. Westminster Christian has beaten both of those clubs as well as the second (Elgin Academy) and third (St. Edward) seeds also aiming for the same regional crown.

“It’s the same team in many respects but the chemistry is stronger,” Westminster senior Will Woodhouse said. “A lot of us are really good friends, but we’ve come to play better together and work harder as a unit.”

The Warriors carried a 9-3-1 record into their home and regular-season finale against Rockford Christian Life, after which comes the chance for postseason redemption.

“Being the top seed for the regional puts a little more pressure on us, but we know from last year that you can’t just show up and assume a higher seed counts for anything,” added the Warriors’ Nick Gnan. “We have to use our work ethic and chemistry to bring us more success.”

The Warriors’ head coach Erik Schwartz was quick to agree.

“After losing last year, we went into this season knowing that we always have to play with a sense of urgency. You can’t just flip a switch for postseason. It’s always a plus to host, but it’s not an automatic win,” Schwartz said. “Early on they set goals to grow as Christians, as men, and as teammates. Because of that, we’ve found ways to get things done. I believe we’ve been behind by a goal in six of our wins, but stayed strong and focused, plus our seniors have really stepped up as leaders.”

While Tim Rodgers has been the leader in goals, the Warriors have also had regular production from Gnan, Collin Sudis, Woodhouse and Robert Kleczynski.

While the Warriors are not looking beyond the regional, success could possibly mean a sectional first-round rubber match against a Hiawatha squad which is the No. 2 seed for the regional which has Genoa-Kingston as host and top seed. Genoa-Kingston’s Cogs feature a powerful one-two punch led by Devon Tijerina (50 points – 19 goals/12 assists) and Cris Camargo (46 points – 17 goals/12 assists).

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