David Gripman makes a difference.
In fact, the junior makes Loyola Academy boys soccer team downright “dangerous” in the postseason.
After missing a big chunk of the season with an MCL injury, Gripman made an immediate impact in LA’s 2-1 upset win over Niles West in a Class 3A regional semifinal game at Evanston High School on Oct. 18.
“You obviously saw what he can do,” said LA head coach Baer Fisher. “He changes our team.
“We’ve learned to win without him,” the coach added. “Having him back makes us a more dangerous team.”
Gripman’s fancy footwork was on display against the Wolves. And so was his power leg.
The opportunistic Gripman put the 11th seeded Ramblers (14-5) ahead 1-0 with 26:19 left in the first half, when he banged in a shot off a rebound.
“Got the perfect bounce. Lucky me,” said Gripman, an all-sectional/all-conference player during the 2016 season when he tallied 10 goals and eight assists.
Credit Ford Peterson. His hard shot, which was deflected by the Niles West goalkeeper, set up the score.
Peterson, a senior forward, just missed doing more damage. He had a number of scoring opportunities in the first half, including an eye-catching bicycle kick that just went wide of the goal.
“Ford was terrific tonight,” said Fisher.
“We easily could’ve been up 3-0 [in the first half],” the coach added.
Props also go to freshman midfielder Tommy Zipprich.
With the score tied 1-1, Zipprich came off the bench and popped in the game-deciding goal with 26:16 left in the second half.
LA’s defense was solid all night. Sophomore goalie Frank Baio got plenty of help from defenders Luke Phillips, Jonas Madison and John Wilson and midfielders Brady Reichert, Collin Leider, Christian Jimenez and Daniel Montaquila.
The Ramblers will be trying to pull off another upset in the regional title game on Oct. 21, when they take on host Evanston at 1 p.m. The No. 3 Wildkits topped Prospect 7-2 in the other semifinal on Oct. 18.
LA will play with plenty of incentive.
“Evanston has knocked us out of the playoffs two years in a row,” said Fisher.