IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Left-footed soccer player Ryan Krueger had heard it for years, mostly from coaches:
Use your right foot more!
Teammates — New Trier teammates and club colleagues — gave him a hard time for being too dependent on half of his wheels.
Tired of the badgering and the fun-loving verbal jabs, Krueger, now a Trevians senior forward, devoted a significant part of his 2017 summer to becoming better than all right with his right foot.
“I saw him work hard on that part of his game,” New Trier junior midfielder Logan Weaver says. “We worked out together here [at the school’s Northfield campus], drilled constantly all summer. He’s been an enthusiastic guy, full of energy about everything, since I’ve known him … even if it’s 6 in the morning.
“Ryan,” Weaver adds, “is now a creative player who sees things in games that no one else sees and can be effective with both feet.”
Krueger’s most impressive feat to date for the 7-2 Trevians, through Sept. 11: a hat trick versus host Deerfield High School in a 7-0 victory on Sept. 5. Two days earlier, in a 5-0 defeat of visiting Lake Forest Academy, the 6-foot, 155-pound Krueger struck for two goals — his second two-goal effort in a match this fall.
Krueger had generated 40 percent of NT’s output in a 5-0 defeat of Buffalo Grove High School on Aug. 26.
The threat-per-second playmaker already has 10 goals and two assists in only nine contests, a season after tallying just two goals as a supportive player who had been asked to distribute first and look to score only if the go-to forces up top were covered tightly and the path in the final third of the pitch appeared slightly wider than Texas.
As a first-year varsity member in his sophomore season (2015), Krueger had paced the Trevians in scoring with seven goals.
“If we are to succeed this year, we need Ryan to score goals, and that’s exactly what he’s doing for us,” Trevians second-year varsity soccer coach Matt Ravenscraft says of the Wilmette resident who has verbally committed to Colgate University. “He’s arguably our most gifted technical player. He’s extremely confident with the ball at his feet, and he has the ability to create space when the ball is in tight areas.
“His decisiveness — either when he’s taking a shot or making that final pass [on a rush] — has improved a great deal,” the coach adds. “And his explosiveness, in those first five to 10 yards with the ball, is outstanding.”
Krueger was 4 when his left foot first tapped a soccer ball. His right foot probably felt left out back then, but it no longer has to worry about neglect or atrophy. He began playing for the Wilmette Wings in the fourth grade before competing with Chicago Magic (eighth grade through sophomore year) and FC United (last year) teams.
“I love to play soccer. I love to watch soccer,” says Krueger, a huge Liverpool soccer fan whose brother, Jake, a New Trier freshman, opted to play club soccer (FC United) rather than prep soccer this fall despite the lobbying efforts of big bro, who respects little bro’s decision.
“I watch professional soccer on TV pretty much every single weekend, Saturday and Sunday, 6 to 10 a.m. I set my alarm to make sure I don’t miss any of the action.”
What he’ll miss at this time next year, as he settles in as a Patriot League booter in cozy Hamilton, New York: battling with Trevians in highly competitive matches and hanging out with them after matches, on bus rides, in between periods at schools, whenever.
“We’re more than soccer teammates,” Krueger says. “We’re incredibly close friends, all of us; we’re … brothers. What I also love about this team is the ability each player has; I consider myself fortunate to be around so many super-skilled players.”
Right on, Ryan Krueger.
Notable: New Trier’s boys soccer team won its first five matches this fall — with a 15-0 goal differential — before falling 5-2 to visiting Libertyville High School in the Northside College Showcase championship match on Sept. 2. Williams College recruit and tri-captain Will Felitto, a senior forward, and junior Andrew Kuhn scored the Trevians’ goals, with junior midfielder and tri-captain Logan Weaver dishing both assists. NT’s other tri-captain is senior goalkeeper Sam Rutherford. … Weaver scored twice and provided two assists in NT’s 5-0 defeat of visiting Lake Forest Academy on Sept. 7. Rutherford stopped four shots. … Felitto and NT senior forwards Alex Donnelly-Maine and Eric Plante each had a goal and an assist, and senior defender Ben Axelrod authored a pair of assists in a 7-0 rout of host Deerfield High School on Sept. 5. NT senior keeper Sam Warden made two saves. … Senior forward Ryan Krueger (off an assist from junior forward Sean Gooze) and senior defender Riles Walsh (unassisted) tallied the first two goals in NT’s 3-0 win over visiting St. Charles East in a Northside College Showcase contest on Aug. 31. Weaver initially got credit for the third goal, but Trevians coach Matt Ravenscraft cleared that up after the match. “It was an own goal,” the coach said. “Right after it was announced that Logan had scored, I looked at him, and he was shaking his head; Logan hadn’t scored. Honest guy.” Walsh’s goal in the same match, with 2:32 remaining in the first half, traveled at least 45 yards before scooting under the hands of a stunned Saints goalkeeper. NT led 2-0 at the half. As Ravenscraft walked off the home pitch in Northfield following the blanking of St. Charles East, he noticed a skunk scurrying near a bank of bleachers. A skunk sighting and a shutout, on the same night — how redundant.