Boys Soccer: Lineup changes boost state-bound Hinckley-Big Rock

Story Image Hinckley-Big Rock's Eric Phillips reacts after scoring the first goal of the game to put the Royals up 1-0 against Cristo Rey Jesuit during their supersectional game at Naperville North High School on Tuesday, October 23, 2012. | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media

Updated: October 24, 2012 9:44PM

A few changes to the lineup have paid big dividends for Hinckley-Big Rock.

The moves made by Paul Taeuber’s coaching staff are a big reason the Royals have advanced to the Class 1A state semifinals where they will meet Alton Marquette Catholic at 5 p.m. Friday at The Corn Crib in Normal.

The first maneuver involved Christian Johnsen, who is one of the fastest players on the team and previously anchored the offensive attack. Taeuber moved Johnsen to marking back while defender Zach Michels replaced Johnsen at forward.

These alterations to the lineup helped the Royals (22-4) score 93 goals through their first 26 matches.

“We realized that if we had Johnsen mark the opponent’s best offensive threat that it could really help us out,” Michels said.

The move has worked as Michels and teammate Bernie Conley have teamed up top for a combined 52 goals this season — Conley has 34 and Michels has 18.

“We have been playing together for so long and we know what each other is thinking,” Michels said. “We know where the other is going out on the field. I think that has helped us build team chemistry.”

Johnsen’s move to the back also coincided with sophomore goal keeper Jason Bohannon taking over full-time this season.

Bohannon is responsible for 12 shutouts this season, including the past two games, which happened to be a sectional championship and supersectional match.

“Jason has kept coming along step by step throughout the season,” Taeuber said. “He has come a long way. We’ve been working on simple things with him. He has improved on his field awareness when coming out of the goal. He has been reacting well.”

The teammates appreciate Bohannon’s efforts throughout this campaign.

“We have a sophomore goalie who plays like he is a seasoned varsity goalie,” Michels said. “He really has improved all areas of his game and that has made all the difference in the back. He has taken ownership.”

Bohannon said he’s received help from fellow defender Tom Sanders, Andrew Klambauer, Bailey McQueen and Johnsen.

“Tom really anchors the back,” Bohannon said. “He is always in the right position and helping make sure everyone is where they are supposed to be, which makes my job 10 times easier.”

In Marquette Catholic (18-6-1), the Royals will face a team that has won 10 straight and 15 of its past 16 after a sluggish 3-5-1 start.

“We are a confident group,” Conley said. “We know the teams remaining are tough, but we’re tested and ready.”

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