Niles West’s 2-0 victory over Niles North on Thursday night was of great importance for the Wolves squad.
The victory happened to be Niles West’s first conference win of the season as they started out CSL South play 0-0-3.
But perhaps more importantly for the Wolves, the win against their rivals also meant the District 219 traveling trophy would return to Oakton St. for the first time in years.
“It feels awesome. I just can’t be more proud of these guys right now,” said Niles West defender Diego Acosta.
“It’s my senior year, and if we were to win any game, this is the one I wanted to win. I don’t even know what to say, I’m speechless right now.”
Acosta played an important role in Niles West’s first goal of the evening. Ten minutes into the contest, Niles West earned a free kick near the halfway line.
The perfectly placed free kick sent in by Acosta glanced off the head of Andrei Tap, which was saved by Niles North. However, the rebound ended up at the feet of Ilija Jerinic who rifled it into the top right corner of the net.
Acosta said: “I was aiming towards the back post because we have really, really good jumpers on our team. I was honestly just hoping, but Andrei got up to that ball someway, somehow.
For the rest of the first half and much of the second half, play was held up in the midfield as neither team could generate much going forward.
As the end of the game neared, Niles North decided to switch their formation to something much more attacking. The initial pressure worked, as Niles North were rewarded with corner and free kicks.
However, pushing their defenders high left them open to the counter attack. Niles West took advantage of the lapse in defense, earning a corner of their own and scoring off their second set piece of the night, an Andrei Tap blast from outside the box.
The goal from Tap sealed off the win for the Wolves, but it was a bittersweet moment for Niles West coach Milo Cejovic, who had to coach against his older brother Filip.
Milo (Dark blue shirt) coached against his older brother Filip (right)
“I love that we won the game but it’s always tough playing my brother. He’s been my role model with everything I’ve done since I was a kid,” said Cejovic.
“It’s great to see my players enjoy it and our fans enjoy it because we’ve been working hard, but you know it’s really tough. It’s a bittersweet feeling.”
Niles West still has plenty of matches left in the season to focus on, but they will be hoping that they can carry the momentum from this win, through the end of the season.
Cejovic said: “You know, we’ve played decently in conference, we were a little unlucky but I hope this win really propels us into a little streak here. If we get a little positive energy going into the playoffs, anything can happen. It’s high school soccer that’s why we love it.”