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Chicago Fire Academy Product Joey Calistri Lifts Northwestern into Sweet 16

First-Year Forward Leads Wildcats with Nine Goals Following Second Round Win Against Marquette

First-Year Forward Leads Wildcats with Nine Goals Following Second Round Win Against Marquette

Northwestern freshman forward Chicago Fire Academy product Joey Calistri saw plenty of familiar faces on the field when the Wildcats ousted Marquette 1-0 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament last Sunday.

The presence of the former Development Academy players in that match was evident solely on Calistri’s game-winning score. Northwestern’s Scott Lakin, also a former Chicago Fire Academy player, provided the assist to Calistri’s 31st-minute strike from about 20 yards out. It was driven past another ex-Fire Academy player in Marquette sophomore goalkeeper Charlie Lyon.

“There were a lot of Fire Academy guys out there and a lot of local guys,” Calistri said. “It was good to see all of them, and because you knew a lot of the players, you knew their tendencies and capabilities.”

Calistri has taken on a leading role with the Wildcats as he has a team-leading nine goals and faces No. 16 Louisvile on Sunday, Nov. 25. Clearly Calistri has made a smooth transition into the collegiate ranks following his Academy days with the Fire.

“I think the training environment has been the most beneficial part of it,” Calistri said. “When I was with the Chicago Fire Academy and training with guys like Kellen Gulley, it was a great opportunity to gain experience and play games against some of the best players in the country. That’s what the Academy is for.”

Calistri’s Fire Academy tenure was a unique one in that he was the leading scorer for the U-17/18 team in 2011-12 while coming off the bench for most of the season. Calistri had 16 goals in 24 games and seven starts as the Fire posted a 13-0-3 record to win the Great Lakes Division and advance to the Academy Playoffs.

“I knew my role was coming off the bench and I was fine with that,” Calistri said. “Obviously I would have liked to have played a full 90 minutes, but I’d come into the second half, run around a little bit, stayed after practice quite a bit and the entire experience helped a lot.”

Calistri’s Northwestern side sputtered a little bit at the end of the regular season with a 1-2-2 record, but the team had a strong enough season to earn a tournament bid and has taken advantage of the postseason.

“It’s been pretty nuts,” Calistri said. “We were sitting watching the selection show, not sure if we would get in the tournament and our name came up. We were struggling a little at the end of the year, but we’ve pulled it together and we have another chance to make this special.”

As for the long-term, Calistri is naturally caught in the moment of this year’s NCAA Tournament but hopes the soccer progression continues.

“Obviously I want to go as far as I can with my soccer career and I hope to get an opportunity to play beyond this,” Calistri said. “I’m extremely happy with where things are, I’m focusing on this season and we’ll see where things lead. It’s been a special experience – everything I would have hoped.”