EACH WEEK, WE’LL TAKE A LOOK BACK AT A MEMORABLE MOMENT IN PREPS HISTORY, THANKS TO THE WORDS OF THE NEWS-GAZETTE
This week: A few area soccer teams are gearing up for possible state tournament berths. Do you remember when the Chargers made it five years ago?
Date: Nov. 1, 2007
Headline: Stopped in his tracks
Wiggs supporting Chargers any way he can
CHAMPAIGN – A year ago, Daniel Wiggs was a standout goalkeeper for the Centennial boys’ soccer team.
But a Jan. 2 car accident in which Wiggs was driving has forced the senior to take a different role this season, a sparkling campaign that the Chargers will complete this weekend by playing in the Class 2A state tournament in Naperville.
Wiggs sustained several serious injuries that have prevented him from regaining his previous form in goal. As a result, the senior has been an inspirational leader for the Chargers.
"I think it’s a real credit to him that he’s even back on this field at all," Centennial coach Cole Bushue said. "He had to work so hard just to get his body back to moving the right way."
The accident led to a broken thumb (he had a pin inserted); a broken humerus; a titanium plate and eight screws in his shoulder; a broken ankle (two screws); and a broken fibula (a plate and four screws).
Wiggs, a News-Gazette All-Area honorable mention selection last fall, rehabbed with a passion to try to get ready for the soccer season. When it arrived, Bushue gave the incumbent a chance to play, but Wiggs’ body wouldn’t cooperate.
"I wanted to give him every opportunity because he was fantastic for us last year," Bushue said. "I don’t think we would have had nearly the success we had last year if it wasn’t for him.
"I feel bad for him because he hasn’t been able to come back and play like I’m sure he wanted to."
Wiggs split time with junior Michael Drackley in goal for some early-season matches. He wasn’t happy with the results, largely because of the ankle injury.
"I wasn’t playing as I used to, wasn’t being as confident as I used to, and I was being more timid," Wiggs said. "I feel like my body is about as good as it’s ever going to get, but I’m definitely not playing like I’m used to, so that kind of stinks."
Still, Wiggs has maintained a positive attitude. While serving as Drackley’s backup, Wiggs has continued to practice, and he has enjoyed the Chargers’ ride to their first super-sectional championship as much as anyone.
"It’s my senior year and I’m definitely very happy that we’re going to state," he said. "I’m glad that I can just stay along for the ride and practice with the guys every day. I’m always on the side-lines yelling at the players, trying to help them out in morale."
Keys to victory
Centennial’s boys’ soccer team (21-2-3) will face Neuqua Valley (22-1-4) in Friday’s 1 p.m. quarterfinal of the Class 2A state tournament at North Central College in Naperville. A look at some of the keys for the Chargers:
SIGHT TO BEHOLD
The Chargers are making their first appearance at state, although several team members have played on a major stage in other levels of soccer. It’s important the Chargers aren’t overwhelmed by the surroundings or opponent.
Bret Hruby is the Wildcats’ top scorer (22 goals), but 6-foot-2 attacking midfielder Bryan Gaul and 5-4 sophomore forward Bryan Ciesiulka also could cause problems if the Chargers aren’t sharp defensively.
CAPITALIZING ON ‘O’
In any closely contested match, it’s important to take full advantage of prime scoring opportunities. The Chargers are facing an accomplished team – the Wildcats’ only loss was against a team from Kansas City, Mo. – with a solid keeper who allows 0.54 goal per match, so they must find the back of the net when they’re able to create a scoring chance. Given the opponent, chances might not come frequently.
A look at the pairings for the Class 2A state quarterfinals in Naperville
Lemont vs. Rockford Boylan, 11 a.m.
Centennial vs. Naperville Neuqua Valley, 1 p.m.
Barrington vs. Collinsville, 4 p.m.
Hinsdale Central vs. Winnetka New Trier, 6 p.m.