By Bob Narang

Morton judges itself on a different level than most high school soccer programs.

With one of the largest talents pools to draw from in Illinois, the Mustangs base their seasons on titles – not win-loss records.

After capturing the program’s first state championship in 2011, the Mustangs have yet to return to that special place – despite numerous 20-win seasons and regional and sectional championships. The closest they got was third-place finish in 2015.

With eight starters back, will this be the year Morton raises another state championship trophy at Hoffman Estates High School in early November?

“We talk every year about state and winning tournaments,” Morton coach Jim Bageanis said. “At the beginning of the season, we make a list of goals and winning the state title is one of those goals that we have every year.

“Not getting there the last two years is a bit frustrating, but they know Naperville North is an excellent team and we have nothing to be ashamed of. We have to get over that hump.”

The Mustangs have lost to Naperville North in each of the last two playoffs, and also suffered an early season defeat to the Huskies again this season.

Morton is led by star Adrian Barrera who will wait until after the season to decide where he’ll play college soccer at. Right now, his main goal is to lead his team back to the state tournament.

“I’ve been working hard and looking forward to this season since the end of last season,” Barrera said. “We have a lot of talent, but we all have to work hard and together.”

The Mustangs have lived up to their lofty preseason billing as one of the top teams in the country. They were awarded the No. 1 seed in the U.S. Army Bracket of the 2018 PepsiCo Showdown Boys, which is the largest high school tournament in the U.S. Morton knocked off Plainfield Central 1-0 on Opening Day, and then defeated Streamwood 1-0 on Tuesday to advance to Final Four play of their 16-team bracket showcase.

“Adrian’s one of our captains, and we’re looking for some big things out of him,” Bageanis said. “He was big in our playoff run last year. Hopefully, this year he will get on that track and help us again in the playoffs.”

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