If last year was a rebuilding year for the Thornton Fractional boys soccer team, Ray Kobus' idea of rebuilding took on a whole new meaning during the season.
The midfielder suffered an ACL tear late in his junior season in a match at T.F. South. Kobus was forced to rehab during his club season, but the senior has come back this year to help turn around the fortunes of Thornton Fractional.
"It was definitely heartbreaking when I learned I had tore my ACL," Kobus said. "I went through five and a half months of rehab. I had the surgery in November, and so I missed a big part of my club training and club season."
Kobus has eight goals and seven assists for Thornton Fractional this season. Last season his team was 5-15-1. As of Tuesday, the team is 9-3, and 4-2 in South Suburban Blue Conference play. Thornton Fractional also finished second at the Windy City Ram Classic earlier in the season, falling to Marian Catholic in penalty kicks in the championship match at Toyota Park.
"Last year was a completely different team," Kobus said. "Coming from the summer and the practices we had before the tournament, everything just started clicking. Everyone got on the same page. Last year, everyone really wasn't on the same page."
Kobus is a four year starter for Thornton Fractional, and he has played anywhere and everywhere the team has needed him; he's been a forward, defender, and primarily a midfielder. Half of the 2013 roster is made up of freshmen and sophomores, but Kobus has plenty of the experience and leadership that his coaches are looking for to lead the younger players.
"A lot of the guys have been in the system for a year now," Thornton Fractional coach Alejandro Lagunas said. "We had very good participation over the summer, and just the leadership in terms of our seniors and juniors stepping up and believing in what we do and believing in each other."
Lagunas said the team was unsure if Kobus would even be able to play this season, but with his maturity and work ethic, the senior was able to get back on the field quickly.
"Ray is very mature for his age," Lagunas said. "He's a very hard worker in practice. He's been through it all. He was a starter his freshman year, he's played every possible position you can play. He's seen a lot. He's seen things kind of transform with the program."
This week Thornton Fractional is competing in the Columbus Cup at Manteno High School and could compete in up to five matches this week. The team also hosts Eisenhower on Friday in an important conference match. With two losses already in 2013, the squad will be forced to run the table in conference play if it wants a share of the SSC Blue crown.
"Take it a game at a time and not really worry about the next game," Kobus said of his teams' tough week. "Definitely focus on each game at a time, and rest when we need to."