Sandburg’s Desi Vuillaume the SouthtownStar 2013 Boys Soccer Coach of the Year
By Steve Millar For Sun-Times Media November 20, 2013 9:58PM
Desi Vuillaume | File photo
Updated: December 23, 2013 1:38PM
Sandburg’s dramatic run to the Class 3A Andrew Sectional title is one Eagles coach Desi Vuillaume won’t soon forget.
“I’m probably going to most remember the amount of gray hair I got the last three weeks,” Vuillaume said. “Most teams just play three games for their first three games of the playoffs. We went to overtime so much that we had played four games worth of time for our first three games.”
The stress was well worth it. In addition to his team’s second consecutive sectional crown, Vuillaume has earned the title of SouthtownStar 2013 Boys Soccer Coach of the Year.
“It’s a good honor,” said Vuillaume, who just finished his third season as varsity boys coach at Sandburg and has coached the girls squad the last six seasons. “It’s always great to be recognized and know that your program is doing something right.
“Our kids worked very hard this year and they certainly had a flair for the dramatic.”
Indeed, the Eagles, who finished 17-7, made things interesting every time they took the field for postseason play. The second-seeded squad was less than four minutes away from going one and done, trailing No. 18 seed Brother Rice 1-0 late in a regional semifinal before rallying for an overtime win.
In the regional final, Sandburg and Reavis went 100 scoreless minutes before the Eagles found a way to survive in the shootout.
After a relaxing-by-comparison one-goal win over Lincoln-Way East in a sectional semifinal that was over in regulation, the Eagles outlasted Thornton co-op in overtime in the final.
“We always preach that games are always won at the end,” Vuillaume said. “The tide of a game can quickly change. Our team really believed that can anything can happen. They had confidence that even when they were down, they could pull it off and find a way to win.”
It took eventual state champion Edwardsville to end the Eagles’ run with a 2-0 win in the Normal Supersectional.
Vuillaume did not have an All-State player on his team. While the 2012 Eagles that finished third in state had star power — Zack Biel and Kevin Kroll combined for 40 goals and 35 assists — this year’s team didn’t even have a 10-goal scorer.
The Eagles weren’t good enough to blow people out, but they sure knew how to find a way to win.
“It’s always easy to rely on one or two people to get you wins,” Vuillaume said. “It becomes difficult when you’ve got to get all the pieces together. This was a special group this year. They knew their strengths and their weaknesses, and we focused on our strengths.”
It certainly wasn’t a year without bumps in the road, but Vuillaume had the Eagles ready at the end.
“The losses to Lincoln-Way West and Lincoln-Way North were huge wake-up calls,” Vuillaume said. “The kids knew they needed to listen to what we were saying and they really bought in.”