LANSING, Ill. (November 9, 2023) – Coach Alejandro Lagunas looked at what TF United boys soccer had coming back this season and wondered if his team would win five games.
Little did he know that United would: have one returning player develop into the program’s first all-stater, add a key transfer, have several other returning players show dramatic improvement, and have two freshmen fast-track into starting roles on the varsity team.
It all added up to a 14-5-3 season, with the program’s first in-season tournament title in years at the Body Armor event and a trip to the Class 3A regional finals.
“It was fun, the kids loved it,” Lagunas said.
TF United soccer is a joint team with students from both TF South and TF North.
Lagunas wound up winning Coach of the Year in the South Suburban Blue and the sectional, while senior Giovanni Melgoza was named conference Player of the Year, all-sectional, All-State and team MVP.
Melgoza had 22 goals and nine assists this season to finish his career with 47 and 18 respectively.
“He’s very hard to defend one-on-one,” Lagunas said. “As he got through to his senior year, (other) teams started to identify that they had to double-team him.”
Melgoza plans to play in college but hasn’t picked a school yet.
“I have a feeling he’ll get a few more looks now that he made All-State,” Lagunas said.
Fellow senior Angel Saenz made all-conference and all-sectional after not playing the previous two seasons.
“For his (small) size, he’s fearless,” Lagunas said. “He doesn’t back down and he wins balls. … Without him — even if we have Gio, we don’t have the season we did.”
A welcome addition to the team was senior Dimitri Kouemo, a transfer from west suburban Morton who was named all-conference and honorable mention all-sectional.
“We didn’t know anything about him, he didn’t come to summer camp,” Lagunas said, “[But] he was a handful for defenders.”
Also making all-conference for United were senior Elkan Ochir and junior Jovani Rivas. Rounding out the award winners was junior goalkeeper Oswaldo Mendoza, who was named the team’s Most Improved Player.
They, and their teammates, all helped make it a season to remember for United.
“We had probably five or six kids who never played high school soccer,” Lagunas said. “Not only did they make the team, some of them were starters. We never knew these kids were walking the halls. … These kids show up to tryouts and we thought, ‘We may have something here.'”
The Meteors won their season opener on Tuesday, beating Richards 1,440-1,348.
Leaders for North were Fernando Rios with a 155-170 — 325 series and Caden McLucas with a 170-153 — 323 series.
Marian downed host St. Patrick 14-7 last Friday in the quarterfinals of the CCL/ESCC Playoffs at Triton College.
The Spartans (5-5) scored all of their points in the first quarter on Tyler Lofton’s 3-yard TD run and Kaleb Stanford’s 16-yard fumble return for a score.
Lofton had 62 yards on 27 carries. Ronnie Gordon and Zach Coleman had interceptions for the Spartans defense, which held the Shamrocks to 2.3 yards per carry.
Marian plays at St. Rita on Friday in the CCL/ESCC semifinals. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Marian finished 15-20 after falling 25-15, 25-23 to Providence in the Class 3A Kankakee Sectional final on November 1.
Olivia Helfen led the Spartans with 12 kills, Sarah Gordon had four digs, Kaitlyn Nichols contributed 10 assists and Emma Perchinski added seven assists.
Two Spartans signed letters of intent on Wednesday: Madison Davis with Western Illinois and Jordan Bailey with Bethel.
Marian’s Jasmine Venson signed a letter of intent with Hampton on Wednesday.
South Suburban College
The Bulldogs moved to 2-0 with an 84-62 home win over Elgin on Tuesday.
Sophomore guard Jemel Jones led SSC with a game-high 33 points on 16-of-26 shooting. He also had six rebounds, six steals and five assists. LeQuan Washington added 19 points and six rebounds.
South Suburban opened its season with a 128-37 win overTrinity Christian’s junior varsity on November 1.
Seven Bulldogs scored in double figures: Jones (24 points), TF North grad Marlon Byrd (15), Washington (14), Brandon Adorno (14), Fraley (14), Julius Byrd (12) and Kenton Wright Jr. (12).
Pro soccer — Indiana Thunderbolts
Indoor pro soccer is coming to the Calumet Region in the form of the Indiana Thunderbolts, who announced last week that they’ll debut in December as a member of the Premier Arena Soccer League-Pro Division.
The team will play a 12-game season, including six home games at the Hammond Sportsplex, 6630 Indianapolis Blvd. in Hammond.
Ante Cop, a Mount Carmel grad who played professionally in three leagues from 2000-18, will be the Thunderbolts’ general manager and head coach. He has previous pro coaching experience in the PASL and Major Arena Soccer League.
The Thunderbolts will have an open tryout on Saturday at the Dyer Indoor Soccer Arena, where the team will practice. For more information, text Cop at 773-366-2017 or email him at [email protected].
- TF North football’s playoff loss ends most successful season in years – other local scores (November 2, 2023)
- Athlete spotlights of the week: TF North’s Tristan Jackson and Marian Catholic’s Olivia Helfen (November 3, 2023)