Dundee-Crown boys soccer coach Rey Vargas didn’t need much time to figure out why a program that had been chasing an elusive division title became unbeatable.
D-C’s unparalleled success during the 2013 regular season can be traced back to one year ago.
“They bought into that concept of, hey, if we really do put the team before ourselves this whole thing can really be something special,” Vargas said. “We were just focused on getting through each game and playing together as a team.”
While the Chargers put together a solid season last year, they entered this season wanting more. With Vargas leading D-C, the Chargers finished the regular season 19-0-1, including a 6-0 mark in the Fox Valley Conference Valley Division to win its first title since 2005 and only the second in the program’s history.
For D-C’s standout season, Vargas is the Northwest Herald’s Coach of the Year.
Although the Chargers featured 11 seniors, everything wasn’t always running perfectly. Vargas said the most challenging part was getting his team to stay level headed as the season progressed. He also credited assistant coach Sebastian Salinski for the experience and extra support he provided throughout the year.
“The main focus was, especially when you were down to see how the guys reacted, being able to overcome that to win,” Vargas said.
The undefeated regular season and the moments accompanying that stand out most to Vargas, despite the Chargers’ semifinal loss to Larkin during penalty kicks in their playoff opener, which ended their season.
“I think we embrace the entirety of the season,” Vargas said. “Obviously, it hurts a little bit. It was tough to get through but, in the end, we have to look at the big picture of what we did. That in itself is very special.”
Vargas’ ability to get the Chargers to work together paid dividends on both ends of the field. Offensively, D-C had a variety of players who were able to score or take over a game while the Chargers’ defense came together to produce 13 shutouts. Cary-Grove coach Mark Olson said Vargas’ ability to let the kids play yet also get them to play within their system was impressive.
“He does a nice job with the players,” Olson said. “He got them to buy into what they needed to. They’ve always collectively had talent, and this year they were able to put it all together.”
Vargas hopes the Chargers can build off the 2013 season and be a consistently winning program. Winning the FVC Valley title is the first step.
“We’re trying to change the culture behind the program,” Vargas said. “And even as a school, it’s been a long time since the school has won a conference championship in any sport so for us to do that, it really kind of brought on a lot of attention to us and what we’re doing with school spirit mentality.”