Borden leads Vernon Hills’ soccer team to big winVernon Hills Thursday 08.25.11. Vernon Hills' Evan Borden (right) (11) heads the ball past Grayslake North's Carson Klarck (left) (10) on Thursday at Vernon Hills High School. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
Evan Borden knows he’s bigger than most high school boys soccer players. He also knows it’s one thing to have size, and it’s another to know how to use it.
“It’s a mentality,” said the 6-foot-1, 170-pound Vernon Hills forward. “You’re a big guy, take advantage of your size. Push guys around if you have to.”
Vernon Hills hopes Borden’s aggressive approach on the field is infectious. He’s the lone junior captain on a young Cougars team, which includes eight sophomores and freshman. Borden’s speed, and size, was easy to spot on Saturday.
Tied with Zion-Benton at 2-2 early in the second half, Borden took a feed from junior midfielder Matt Tabrizi, racing past the Zee-Bees’ defense and putting the ball in the back of the net. That gave Vernon Hills a 3-2 lead, en route to a 6-3 win.
“Evan is such a big target, with speed, (that) you want to find him at his feet,” said Vernon Hills coach Shannon Etnyre.
It would be easy to assume that Borden honed his craft on club soccer teams, playing the sport year-round like many athletes do. But he has shunned becoming a one-sport specialist, playing volleyball and basketball as well. With an increased workload — and more responsibility from Etnyre — Borden will not play basketball this season. He’ll stick with volleyball, though, as it requires skills that translate to soccer: jumping and speed in short spaces.
“I can jump and run, get a body on guys and use my shoulders,” said Borden. “That’s to put pressure on a defense and hopefully get some goals.”
One of Borden’s two AP classes this fall is U.S. History. He and his Cougars teammates are planning on creating a bit of their own: a .500 season. It would be the first for the school since 2003.
“After the last few years, we are a bit under the radar,” said Borden. “We feel we can be up there with the better teams in the division.”
Recap: The Cougars hosted the Cougar Classic to begin the season. They dropped the first game, falling to Grayslake Central 1-0 on Aug. 23, and then lost to Grayslake North 4-2 on Aug. 25. By closing out the tournament with a decisive victory over champion Zion-Benton, Vernon Hills finished in fourth place. The Cougars also showed resolve, which was not lost on their coach.
“We went back to training, and worked on finishing and defense,” said Etnyre. “They took the positive from the two losses and put everything together.”
Vernon Hills plays a 4-4-2 style with a super stopper. This year, sophomore Jeremy Cohen will play the stopper role, with help on the back line from center midfielders Shaun Aumiller, Brad Burrows and Matt Tabrizi.
“They do a great job of knowing when (Jeremy) is offensive-minded to hold back our defensive shape,” said Etnyre.
Stats: It was a total team victory against Zion-Benton, as five Cougars tallied goals. James Lee scored twice, while Borden, Tabrizi, Cohen, David White and Ricky Ceja also notched goals. Lee, Cohen, Tabrizi, Borden and James Woo each added assists.
In the Cougars’ loss to Grayslake North, Tabrizi and Borden scored goals.
Scoring eight goals in three games, combined with a solid defensive effort against Grayslake Central and Zion-Benton, left Etnyre excited about what lies ahead.
“It’s the best soccer this early in the season in six years,” he said.
Up next: Vernon Hills hosts Wheeling on Saturday.