JIM HUNSLEY: Perseverance the mantra for Chesterton boys soccer team

2013-10-16T18:30:00Z 2013-10-16T19:15:07Z JIM HUNSLEY: Perseverance the mantra for Chesterton boys soccer teamJim Hunsley Times Columnist nwitimes.com
October 16, 2013 6:30 pm  • 

Chesterton's boys soccer program made it to the state championship game in 2007, but the achievements of this year's squad might be just as impressive.

The 2013 Trojans are 15-2, picking up the program's sixth sectional title. The road to today's 5 p.m. Class 2A Merrillville Regional semifinal with Munster has had its share of potholes, but the Trojans have traversed the bumpy route.

Senior Jonathan Blake received a tryout from a Chicago Fire junior team a week before the season started, and he decided to skip the prep season. Blake had seven goals and three assists as a junior and was expected to be a key cog in the lineup.

"There's no denying the fact Jonathan Blake would've helped our team," Chesterton coach Jamie Sensibaugh said. "He made his decision and it worked out for him."

Some teams might have lost steam dealing with a loss like that before the first game, but Chesterton raced off to a 7-2 start.

In the 10th game of the season, junior Billy Biehl sustained multiple facial fractures during a play in the Sept. 16 2-1 win over Andrean. Biehl is the team's best player -- even if Blake was on the roster -- and I believed his loss would spell doom. Biehl had 11 goals and five assists up to that point.

"We just kept firing on all cylinders," Sensibaugh said. "Without (Biehl), we were still a pretty good team."

Pretty good? Chesterton won its next six games by a combined score of 25-3. Thirteen players scored a goal in those contests. Sophomore Trent Weller scored half of his 14 goals during that run, while senior John Ward added four of his 11 total goals.  On defense, goalie Caleb Gmyrek had three shutouts.

I was surprised by the results, but Sensibaugh wasn't shocked.

"We just didn't talk much about (what was happening)," he said. "It was more or less, 'Here's the deal and what are we going to do about it'."

Biehl returned to the lineup for last Saturday's sectional, and he scored in the 2-0 win over Portage. Biehl now wears a mask as protection, but Sensibaugh said the junior isn't backing down from contact.

"I thought there would be a concern heading the ball or going for a 50-50 ball," Sensibaugh said. "He's not playing any different."

Amid the celebration, the Trojans had to deal with the loss of another player. David Gutierrez collided with Indians goalie Cody Simmons and suffered a broken leg.

Gutierrez might not be as heralded as either Blake or Biehl, but the often-used substitute was also the team's backup goalie.

It's just another obstacle that Sensibaugh believes this team can overcome.

"The team has learned perseverance, not to give up anything," he said. "I wouldn't be surprised if we go even further."

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at jim.hunsley@nwi.com.

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