By Bob Narang
No matter where Homewood-Flossmoor’s Brendan Hurley looks, the senior midfielder can see the opportunity for growth everywhere around him.
From the powerhouse football team to the basketball and track programs, Hurley is hoping the same success spills over to the Vikings’ boys soccer program this fall.
“This team has a ton of potential to go very far,” said Hurley, whose team advanced to the Elite Eight of its bracket in the 2016 PepsiCo Showdown. “You can’t just go out and win a championship in one year.
“You have to have a club that’s built over the years and have players serious about the sport and playing well. That happens over time, but we can start the process now if we play well this year.”
Hurley and his younger brother, sophomore Jack Hurley, are two players that Homewood-Flossmoor coach Chris Reid points to in helping change the culture of the program. The goal is to have the majority of his underclassmen entering the varsity program with years of club soccer under their belts.
“Club has really advanced our skills and has been a big contributor to our success,” said Brendan Hurley, a three-year varsity player, who also has played club for the past 10 years.
Reid agrees that the program is experiencing an uptick in players with better skills due to playing club, an aspect that will help in the win-loss column.
“We have a lot more club players than we’ve ever had before,” said Reid, who is entering his fifth season as head coach and was a key member of Lincoln-Way’s state contenders during his high school playing days. “That’s a big help in the mental aspect of the game, because they’re more calm, composed and confident.
“We need those players that are dedicated to the sport and not just playing to stay in shape for another sport. I’m really excited to see how these guys compete.”
The Vikings certainly have the facilities to be a top-notch program. With a 50-yard indoor turf field, Reid’s program has the resources and talent to top last season’s 9-17 overall record. Besides the Hurley brothers, Homewood-Flossmoor also returns field players Ben Wootton, Sebastian Ascensio, Jeffrey Ordonez and Kyle Butler. Expect to see Matt Harkins in goal.
“We’re working our way up to being better every year,” Reid said. “Our youth program has former players coaching in it for a few years now.
“So those younger players are getting better coaching and building their skills at a younger age. We’ll start to see that talent in the high school soon, which will result in positive results for the program.”
Off the field, Reid’s squad has made a big difference in the community. Last year, the program officiated the Special Olympics Unified Soccer Tournament, while also surprising students from a low-income elementary school with new scooters and delivering random acts of kindness to fire fighters in Chicago.
“It always feels great and is very important to help others,” Reid said.
Besides leaving his own legacy, Brendan Hurley has a vested interest in watching the program evolve into an annual winner.
“As long as everybody comes out with a focused mentality and works hard, we have a good shot at making it far,” Brendan said. “We have a lot of talent. The seniors are trying to leave a mark for the future to build upon.”
2017 Homewood-Flossmoor Outlook
Coach: Chris Reid, 5th season, 33-66 overall record
Assistant coach: Gil Smit
Top returnees: Brendan Hurley (Sr., M), Ben Wootton (Sr., M), Sebastian Ascensio (Sr., M), Jeffrey Ordonez (Sr., F), Jack Hurley (So., M) and Kyle Butler (Jr., F)
Starting goalie: Matt Harkins (Sr.)
2016 overall record: 9-17 overall, 0-5 in conference. Lost in Class 3A regional finals.
Best finish in PepsiCo Showdown: Elite 8 in 2016