As Illinois Lutheran's Evan Henschel entered his final year of high school, his soccer game has been given a boost by the confidence that comes with the tag of being called a "senior."
A little bit of hard work might have helped to elevate his game in 2013 too.
"It's my senior year so I've had more confidence than I've ever had," Henschel said. "I worked a lot in the off season. I have a great team behind me that gets me the balls."
The senior forward has 23 goals this season and is providing a major chunk of the Illinois Lutheran offense. Junior midfielder Justin Schmidtke has 20 goals for the Chargers and between the two players, they are the face of the offense.
The Chargers will face rival Beecher on Tuesday in the opening round of the Class 1A Chicago Christian Regional. Illinois Lutheran split a pair of games with the Bobcats in 2013.
In the first meeting, the Chargers won 2-1 at Toyota Park in Bridgeview. Five days later, the Bobcats won 3-2 on the Chargers' home field. Henschel scored goals in both games, including the game tying goal to send the Chargers' eventual 3-2 loss into double overtime.
"Evan scored a goal with about 10 seconds on the clock to tie it up," Illinois Lutheran coach Andy Biesterfield said. "Then we ended up losing in the second overtime. We expect it to be a tough game. I think that entire regional will be. I think it's pretty wide open."
Biesterfield said the team would like to try to involve other players in the offense, but Henschel is still the Chargers' best bet for goal scoring.
"We've been working our shape and possessing the ball more," Biesterfield said. "Possessing the ball more and try to get more chances, especially from people other than Evan. But he has scored in just about every game we've had this year. We haven't gone up against too many players that he can't outrun to the ball."
Henschel is well aware of his role to help other players become involved in the Illinois Lutheran offense.
"I can just get open and once I'm open create some space for the other guys," Henschel said. "Pass them off the ball. We have a ton of good guys on the team that I can pass it to, so I'm confident."
With the confidence of being a senior, Henschel also feels a sense of urgency to get the Chargers to a regional title and possibly beyond.
"This is my last year playing high school ball," Henschel said. "I definitely want to beat (Beecher) so we can keep playing. It's a big rivalry between us and hopefully we can get the win."