Through a slow start to the season, Will Donahoe never stopped rallying the troops.
Eventually, the Sycamore boys’ soccer team started winning, went undefeated in Interstate 8 play in the regular season, and won the Class 2A Sycamore Regional while Donahoe put up 32 goals and nine assists.
“We didn’t let the start of the season against the bigger teams put us down,” Donahoe said. “We kind of grew together and ended up with a winning record after losing the first six games I think it was. It was a good turnaround to the season.”
Donahoe was named the 2022 Daily Chronicle Boys Soccer All-Area Player of the Year after the Spartans, despite a 1-6-1 start to the year, finished up 14-12-1 and champions of the Class 2A Sycamore Regional.
“There were plenty of times at practices, before games and at halftime he got the guys together and said, ‘Hey, we’re better than this,’” first-year Sycamore boys coach Kevin Bickley said. “And some of those games were on the road against tough opponents. It would have been easy for some of these younger kids to just cave in and it could have gone south. He was one of those more vocal ones that said we can turn this around.”
Given the new coach and a lot of new faces on the roster this year, Donahoe said he wasn’t sure what to expect for his senior year. But even with the slow start, he said the season exceeded his expectations.
“I wasn’t really sure how much I would score or how that would play out with the new team and everything,” Donahoe said. “We ended up playing really well together and I had a lot of opportunities that other players gave me. I kind of surprised myself. It was a good senior year to have and I’m proud of all that I accomplished.”
Donahoe said he liked how his team battled back against rival Kaneland in their three meetings this year. After winning the regular season contest en route to an undefeated regular season in the I8, the Spartans lost at home to the Knights in the conference tournament.
The teams met for a rematch in the regional title game. The Spartans won 3-1 in that one.
“It was great seeing the team kind of come together, especially with the Kaneland games,” Donahoe said. “We won in the regular season and were undefeated in conference, but then lost the conference championship. We knew we’d have a chance to play them again during the regional matchup. We kind of really focused and wanted that win back on our home field. It felt great once we came back and won that game.”
Donahoe scored in the first two games against the Knights, and Bickley said the scoring came from unexpected sources in the regional match as Donahoe was kept off the scoreboard.
Bickley said it was something Donahoe dealt with all year, dealing with teams focused on stopping him. And he said the senior striker did a great job.
“Teams want to defend one kid and it can be a struggle sometimes,” Bickley said. “He seemed to find a way. In the Kaneland games and DeKalb game, he seems to find a way to score goals. You watch and he’s got three guys on him and he comes away with the ball land gets a shot off. And you look back and go how did that happen?”
Source: The Daily Chronicle