Peoria Notre Dame senior midfielder Jeff Cassidy did not make the varsity team as a freshman or junior, and he did not get a lot of playing time last year as a junior, so he is often overshadowed by the more experienced goal scorers on the Irish team — junior Vince Cicciarelli, junior Cody Gilfillan and senior Michael Schrader. Those players all played varsity since they were freshmen.
But Cassidy is making up for lost time this season. He scored a goal in the season-opener against Sacred Heart Griffin, and had two goals in an 8-0 win over Woodruff last week.
“Jeff has really improved,” said Notre Dame coach Mike Bare. “He played club soccer for me this summer (FC Peoria), and he made strides. He’s a hard-working kid who is not going to get the prettiest goals, but he’s always in the right place.
“He’s grown a little more, too, so he has good height, which allows him to use his head more. And, he’s playing with much more confidence. He feels like he belongs here, and he knows he can contribute.”
After tying Christian Brothers, 1-1, and losing, 2-1, to St. Louis Chaminade, the defending Missouri state champions, Bare said he learned a lot about his team.
“We wanted to win those games, so we’re a little disappointed, but there were a lot of good signs,” Bare said. “I thought our back line played really well. That was an area where we didn’t have a lot of experience coming back, and they are playing really well.”
The ND starting back line consists of juniors Brett Lane, Drew Olehy and Josh Swank, and sophomore Brad Lazzari, who transferred from Peoria Christian.
“Brett Lane was phenomenal back there, and Drew Olehy really stepped up,” Bare said. “Overall, all four of those players showed that they are capable of playing with some of the top teams.”
Bare said the main focus after the weekend, heading into the Woodruff game, was to improve the midfield play.
“We needed to get more movement off the ball and create multiple options, so we weren’t so predictable,” he said. “Also, I wanted us to work on finishing our opportunities. Friday night (a 1-1 tie against Christian Brothers), we had several good chances that we didn’t put away. If we finished those chances, we could have won that game.”
Notre Dame (3-1-1), which beat Quincy Notre Dame, 5-1, Saturday, hosts Richwoods at 7 p.m. tomorrow.
Dunlap wins, 4-0
Dunlap beat Pekin, 4-1, Saturday to improve to 4-0-1. Greyson Keenan scored two goals. Jacob Abou-Hanna and Derek Mills also scored.
Regional, Sectional sites announced
Peoria Notre Dame will play in the Metamora Regional, which includes Metamora, Peoria Central and Woodruff.
Richwoods, which lost. 1-0, to Quincy Notre Dame Thursday, will host its own Regional. Limestone, East Peoria and Galesburg are also in that Regional.
Dunlap will play in the Streator Regional, which includes LaSalle-Peru, Washington and Streator.
The winners of those Regionals will advance to the Morton Sectional. The Super-Sectional site has not yet been announced