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By Mike Sandrolini

PROVISO | Proviso East, known primarily as a basketball school, has produced a
number of players who’ve gone on to play both collegiately and in the NBA.
Pirate football players also have reached the college and NFL ranks.

When it comes to soccer, Proviso East has an alum who’s making a name for himself
nationally at the junior college level. And before long, he may very well be playing for an
NCAA Division I team.

Alexis Monteon—the first all-state soccer player in school history who graduated from
Proviso East last spring owning every conceivable school scoring record—has taken
his talents to nearby Morton College.

Monteon hasn’t missed a beat with the Panthers during his freshman season. He
currently leads the nation in scoring with 23 goals prior to the Panthers’ regular-
season finale against Robert Morris earlier this week. In a recent 7-0 victory, Monteon
scored a hat trick and assisted on a fourth goal.

“The key for him being successful (at Morton) is (that he’s been) playing at a high
level,” said Morton coach Juan Franco, who’s in his 15th season. “He’s been to
organized soccer schools, travel teams and things like that. I think that’s a key
because to become successful you need to start (playing) early. He has the
experience, but he’s still young. He has a really powerful shot from anywhere.”

Asked why he’s been able to pick up at Morton where he left off at Proviso East,
Monteon replied, “Everybody (here) is united and works as a team. No one is more
than someone else; everybody’s the same. No one pushes anyone down. Everybody
tries to get everybody up.  If they are doing something wrong, everybody tries to work
with the person that’s not on the right pace.  “The players that play with me, they help
me a lot. We work together and get more opportunities.”

Monteon, who earned all-state honors his junior year with the Pirates and scored
around 50 career goals, was urged to attend Morton College by current teammate
Juan Salgado—a midfielder with the Panthers who just so happened to be his
teammate at Proviso East.
“He told me to come here, that they have a good program for soccer, and also it was a
good school to start off at,” Monteon said. “So I decided to look into it. I liked it for
school and the soccer team.”

The soccer program at Morton is, indeed, one of the nation’s best JUCO programs.
The Panthers were 14-5-2 before Tuesday’s game vs. Robert Morris—their 10th
straight winning season, which ties a school record. They’ve won seven in a row and
eight of their last nine.

“We have successful players who are successful academically, too,” Franco said. “I
think that’s important. One of the things that’s very important for me is education. You
keep the guys (focused) on education, then other students want to come and keep
with a good program, not only with soccer but with education.”
Until recently, Morton was struggling to finish offensively, but a new practice drill
installed by Franco has worked wonders. Franco puts all of his forwards and
midfielders in a group against the team’s defenders, and gives them 15 seconds to
score a goal.

In seven games since Franco introduced the new drill—all victories—Morton has
outscored its opponents by a whopping 36-3.   “The first 13 games we had trouble
scoring,” Franco said. “I said, ‘We shouldn’t lose these games, and we shouldn’t have
lost another few games that we lost. We need to do something or we’re not going to
go anywhere.’

“One night I was thinking about the need to do something. ‘What do I need to do to
change this?’ The next practice I said to my assistant, ‘We need to do this, and we
need to do it every practice until we become finishers.’ ”

Monteon said he’s open to staying at Morton for his sophomore year, but adds, “I want
to play Division I. I had a few schools interested in me right out of high school, but I
couldn’t go because I had some problems with grades.”

Franco mentioned that the interest is there from D-I schools such as the University of
Illinois-Chicago and another university in California.  “They are definitely looking at
him, and I really think he’s going to be able to play (Division I),” the coach said.
Ex-Pirate star Monteon leading
NJCAA in goals scored