By Bob Narang

After posting a memorable 23-1 record last season but drawing little attention, Woodstock soccer coach Matt Warmbier realized it was time for a change.

So with nine starters back from last season’s team, Warmbier upgraded the schedule, which included entry into the PepsiCo Showdown.

The results thus far have been promising.

The Blue Streaks won 11 of their first 13 games and advanced to the championship game of the U.S. Navy Bracket in the 16th Annual PepsiCo Showdown Boys. Woodstock will play Oswego on 1 p.m. Sunday at Robert Morris University’s Sports Complex in Arlington Heights.

“I kind of expected us to be doing pretty well this year,” Warmbier said. “We needed some people to step up, but we needed a stronger schedule.

“Playing in PepsiCo really helped us, just playing tougher competition. Last year, we had a great run but we didn’t get noticed a lot. Our strength of schedule hampered us. I fought hard to get into this tournament, so we could play some of these top teams in the state.”

Even without a marquee player or anybody committed to a college, the Blue Streaks have managed to reach the title game of their bracket with wins over Wheaton Warrenville South, Fenwick and Lincoln-Way East.

Midfielder Caleb Warmbier has led the team in assists in each of the last two seasons. In 13 games this fall, he has 11 goals and 11 assists this season. Caleb Warmbier said the team is motivated for an extended run in the Class 2A playoffs.

“We know how to come together and work as a team to win,” Caleb Warmbier said. “I have worked hard to become a leader for my team. I want to be able to give my teammates the best advice and help keep their heads up when something doesn’t go our way.”

The senior added the entire team is soaking up the atmosphere of playing in the PepsiCo Showdown Boys, from the top-flight competition to the lifesize player banners and DJ playing music on Showcase Saturday.

“Being a fairly small school, this is a great opportunity not only for our team, but our school to get some publicity and become known,” Caleb Warmbier said. “It’s amazing for our team. This tournament will give us a feel for the kind of talent we will face going into the playoffs.”

Woodstock defender MacLean Buckley added that he and his teammates are excited to play Oswego in the PepsiCo Showdown Boys title match.

“PepsiCo is a great tournament, and I’m glad we were one of the teams invited,” Buckley said. “There’s a lot of competition, and I feel we are rising to the expectations of this program by being in PepsiCo.”

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