Boys Soccer: Unbeaten Chesterton turns back Munster
CHESTERTON -- The O'Dell name carries a lot of weight in the Chesterton High School soccer program.
Jared and Derek O'Dell both went on to play at IUPUI, setting the bar high for younger brother Ryan, who quickly one-upped his siblings by winning a state championship with the 2018 Trojans as a freshman.
"I grew up playing with them," Ryan said. "It was fun to watch them. They helped me. They kind of made me who I am. Like coach always tells me, I don't need to really focus on having to live up to the name. As long as I'm trying out there, it's fine."
After contributing two goals and four assists as a ninth-grader, he missed his sophomore season with growing issues caused by Sever's disease, a painful heel injury in children caused by growth plate swelling. He got his junior year off to a roaring start with two goals in the opener but had gone four matches without another score before striking at the end of a dazzling virtuoso run in the second half Saturday against Munster.
"He has those moments where it's, oh my God, and that was one of those oh my God moments, something you create out of nothing," Trojans coach Lucas Sabedra said. "Ryan is one of the best players I've seen on turf. His one on one skills are so smooth. When Ryan's confident, he's
one of the best players I've seen. He and Liam (Grimes) have been practicing with the varsity, knowing the system since they were freshmen. We know what he's capable of on the field. We'll take those odds of him going to the goal."
Chesterton was nursing a 1-0 edge when O'Dell took the ball on the Munster side of midfield. He dodged three Mustangs like they were pylons, breaking clear for an open shoot.
"It felt good to finally score," he said. "I've been trying the whole season. I joke around with my friends, telling them to feed me, I'm going to score. I've had a little drought."
While O'Dell stops short of rating himself next to his brothers, star forward Zack Bowser and goalkeeper Charlie Eaton remarked, 'save the best for last.'
"It was a great run," Bowser said. "He beat like three kids, put a few kids on the floor. We have so much creativity up top. It makes it so much easier. One guy isn't getting pressured the whole game."
Ryan calls himself similar to Derek in position and playing style, while Jared was more defensive-minded.
"My first year coaching JV, Jared might have been a senior," Sabedra said. "Derek was a freshman, so I got to coach him on JV. I know the family so well. They're all very different players. I could go on and on about each one. Derek was more of an offensive player, whereas Jared was more distribution-type player, with more field vision. Ryan has his own skill set. He's better at a lot of things than the other two. Ryan plays quicker in tight spaces."
O'Dell's burned Munster with finesse after Bowser went the power route, rocketing in a 35-yard free kick in the first half at 18:12.
"Bowser's wowsers," O'Dell said. "That's all I can really think of it."
"I was just ready for a big shot. Most of my goals this season have come inside the box so far. I waiting for one of those," Bowser said. "You've just got to keep your angle locked so it doesn't get away from you. Right away, I knew it was going to have a great chance. It was a great feeling. We could relax a little more and just knock the ball around, not force it."
Sabedra called the blast 'freakish.'
"That's just the kind of player he is," he said. "Big-time players step up in big moments and do big things. We put all of our confidence in all of our players on the field, even the guys on the bench. When they go in, they're in for a reason. We trust guys like Zack to take those free kicks. We practice them so we know he's capable of putting it on target. It's not like it's a brand new situation."
Nana Nnuro-Frimpong and Ethan Orange were dangerous for Munster, but missed on some chances and Eaton dove to smack away an Orange shot ticketed for the net in the 62nd minute. Orange also had a brief look at an open goal at 6:45 of the second half, only to have his one-timer off a Nnuro-Frimpong feed sail wide. Munster also had a player inadvertently block a shot that would have put it on the board.
"Chesterton was the best team in the area going into the season and they're maintaining it," coach Jim Prasopoulos said. They're a quick team, fast team, a disciplined team. They did some really nice things to take it to us and we weren't really on, even in dead ball situations. We were over-hitting it. We had a couple point blank shots, a head ball at the end. It wasn't a good day to come out and not play to our potential. Good teams will do things to you sometimes that you maybe don't always react the best way to. What's going to matter is if we grow from it, get better, learn from it, and maybe we get another chance to see them again."
Eaton's shutout was his fifth in six matched. The only
goal allowed by Chesterton this season came in the final minute of a win over Culver Academy.
"From my spot, I can watch the game and appreciate it rather than have to move," Eaton said. "These two kids are absolutely unbelievable up top and to watch them day in and day out, it's quite a pleasure. The motto I've always lived by is you've got to bring your own energy. If I'm talking, energetic the whole game, I'm not bored, I'm not lazy back on the goal line, and it keeps me energetic to make some saves. As a team, we'd rather not give up any shots, but I know when my number's called, I like to come up big for these guys because they come up big for me a lot."
Even an elite keeper can be overlooked on a team with a potent attack, though Sabedra knows Eaton's importance to the Trojans' success.
"He's someone you don't speak of much when you only see three, five shots in a game, but some of those saves are big-time," Sabedra said. "They had more shots on goal than us. We knew preparing the whole week this was going to be our biggest game yet. We always have this chippy non-conference rivalry. We know we're always going to get their best. It's been that way ever since I was in high school, the kind of game where anything can happen, both ways. We had to take care of business early. We knew what we wanted to do and, for the most part, we executed it, but not completely. It's still relatively early in the year, so it's good to come out and get the results."