Wheaton Academy boys soccer coach Jeff Brooke recognized some in the soccer community questioned whether the Warriors were "a one-hit wonder" after their 2012 postseason run.
That skepticism became all the more understandable when standout Grant Stoneman – a Wisconsin recruit – elected not to return to high school soccer this fall.
But Brooke's retooled Warriors quickly put any doubts to rest, embarking on a dominant regular season that preceded the Warriors' second straight berth in the IHSA Class 2A state final four. Brooke is the Chronicle's Boys Soccer Coach of the Year.
"I thought our guys really responded well," Brooke said. "I was proud of our team chemistry this year. Most of the things we set out to accomplish this year, our guys got up to the level that we asked."
Wheaton Academy (22-5-1) enjoyed an unbeaten run through the Suburban Christian Conference before recording five straight postseason victories, sending the Warriors to the 2A state semifinals in Hoffman Estates.
There, the Warriors lost in a penalty kick shootout to St. Ignatius, forcing Brooke to console a heartbroken team. The pain after the marathon shootout was especially acute considering Wheaton Academy also fell in a PK shootout in the 2012 state semifinals.
"We just really wanted to be sure the guys knew their identify isn't wrapped up in a penalty kick, and ultimately that they have people that love them and are confident in their ability, and nothing has changed from that outcome," said Brooke, whose team finished fourth in 2A for the second straight year. "It wasn't exactly what we wanted, so hoping those words stick with those guys.
"I know some of our guys have some visual images they're trying to shake when they go to bed at night, be it a PK or an opportunity they had in regulation, but I hope they got from me that my [feelings about them] are not wrapped up in performance but their decision to be in our program."
– Jay Schwab, firstname.lastname@example.org