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HS: Illinois quick strikes spark West boys

Article Written by Sheldon Shealer
Published: December 2, 2017

CELEBRATION, Fla. -- Ryan Wittenbrink and Noah Melick were regarded as the top two players in Illinois this fall, and the pair proved a lethal 1-2 while leading the West to a 4-1 victory in the High School All-American Game at La Costa Field on the campus of Celebration High School on Saturday.

Libertyville (Ill.) senior Wittenbrink, who is committed to Indiana, scored five minutes into the contest and H.D. Jacobs (Ill.) senior Melick, who is committed to Wisconsin, scored two minutes later to stun the East, which never recovered. Wittenbrink's second goal made it 3-0 late in the second half. 

While the Illinois stars were providing the offense, Whitefish Bay keeper Elian Haddock came up with four or five crucial saves to keep the East scoreless until the closing minutes of the match.

Lehigh commit Josh Luchini of North Allegheny (Pa.) put the East on the scoreboard in the 85th minute, but Georgetown commit Luke Kiley of Dublin Coffman (Ohio) scored two minutes later to restore the West's three-goal advantage.

"We showed what we're about," Wittenbrink said, referring to the high level of high school play in Illinois, specifically the Chicagoland area from where Wittenbrink and Melick hail. 

"We came into the game, psyched to play and to win one for the West," Melick added.

Now, with the high school season in the past, Melick and Wittenbrink will team up for FC United Academy this spring before heading to their respective Big 10 rival programs next fall. 

Not far removed from the Chicago area, Whitefish Bay (Wis.) made a statement for small-school programs. The three-time defending Wisconsin Division 2 champs had two players in the match: Haddock, who is committed to Yale, and defender Shawn Azcueta, who is committed to Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Two others easily could have made the All-American Game had it not been for a two-player limit per school.

Wittenbrink and Haddock were named co-MVPs for the West, while the East MVP went to midfielder Mohamed Omar, who is expected to make is verbal commitment to a major Division I program in the next few weeks.

Wittenbrink was a major force in Libertyville's state runner-up finish and final FAB 50 No. 7 ranking this past fall. Haddock played a key role in Whitefish Bay's perfect season, which landed the school of 1,000 students and final FAB 50 No. 2 ranking. Omar helped Berkshire to a Prep A runner-up finish and a final No. 3 Prep Top 10 finish.

"The biggest honor is just to be here," Haddock said. "I'm really proud to represent a small public school. ... We had a great group of guys playing for years and we were able to put a small town on the national scale."

SCORING SUMMARY

West - Ryan Wittenbrink, Libertyville (Ill.), 5th

West - Noah Melick, H.D. Jacobs (Ill.), 7th (assist Hector Gomez)

West - Wittenbrink, 77th

East - Josh Luchini, North Allegheny (Pa.), 85th

West - Luke Kiley, Dublin Coffman (Ohio), 87th

 
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