Boys Soccer Commences 2021 COVID Season


Aila Durakovic

Niles West boys varsity soccer team with the Crosstown traveling trophy.

By Marija Kraljevic, Arts and Entertainment and Photo Editor

After a long year of no soccer being played out on the football field, the boys have finally returned, but with some new challenges. The last time the team has truly played the sport in a full-out match was pre-coronavirus in Oct. 2019. New protocols made by the Illinois High School Association have caused some difficulty yet also changes the rhythm of the game itself and the supporters.

“Everyone is wearing masks the entire time we are playing. We are also social distancing at all times. Practices just require a bit more effort to plan and to make sure are abiding by all the new rules,” varsity coach Milo Cejovic said.

The new precautions are also quite demanding for senior athletes as they won’t be able to experience the same type of normalcy compared to previous seasons with the addition of masks.

“I would say the biggest challenge is having to play with masks on. Soccer is a sport that requires elite fitness levels, and having something that hinders your ability to breathe is less than ideal; however, everyone in the state must do the same, so we don’t really have an advantage,” senior and captain Gio Terlizzi said. “I’m sure as the season progresses, we will get used to them as best as we can.”

The shortened season with fewer practices will also greatly impact the team’s performance on the pitch.

“Everything feels more rushed, we usually have an extra week to condition and prepare, but now we just dive straight into games after our first week of practice/tryouts. It’s just completely different from what we’re typically used to,” senior Eden Melamed said.

With a different outlook on this season, the team is still determined to give it their all and win as many games as they can.

“The goal this season is to make sure we keep all players and staff safe and healthy primarily. On the soccer front, we’d like to win games. That’s the big reason we compete,” Cejovic said. “We’d also like to make sure our players are enjoying themselves and be a positive outlet in a time when it’s tough to maybe have one.”

“We have a very strong group of boys, and we have set high expectations; however, I also believe that everyone on the team will work as hard as they can to achieve this,” Terlizzi said.

Tune into the Varisty’s second match against Niles North at 7 pm on March 11 to support the players and see them compete in a West vs. North crosstown classic.