GENEVA – St. Charles East coach Vince DiNuzzo has noticed a “swagger” from goalie Jordan Rolon he hasn’t quite seen before.
“I think he’s grasped where he’s at,” DiNuzzo said after the Saints’ 1-0 victory over St. Charles North in the annual Tri-Cities soccer night Sept. 27. “He’s embraced it.
“He’s looking at the top guys in the state and [wondered]: ‘How do I get to that?’ He’s watching film. He’s critical of himself, but he has the ability to shrug off mistakes and move on to the next play. He’s been solid for us.”
The Saints needed a highly active Rolon in the second half. Rolon saved three free kick chances to preserve a hard-fought shutout.
“Jordan held the ball well,” DiNuzzo said. “He was good today with his distributions [and] slowing the game down with the tempo. His hands, too. We gave up a lot of free kicks. Defending those in-between balls, credit to him, because he was pretty much able to judge all of it.”
Rolon, who has commanded the majority of starts in goal for the Saints (12-1-2, 4-0), takes “every practice to heart” – and every game.
“Right now, at this moment, we’re at the mid-end of the season and playoffs. It’s just a confidence boost to keep going,” said Rolon, who had five saves on the night.
Despite being peppered with free kicks and managing chaos in front of the net, Rolon maintains a trust in himself and his backline to make the plays that are needed to win.
“Even on corners, we’ve been practicing set pieces and we really don’t want to get scored on in set pieces,” Rolon said.
A physical first half by both teams resulted in a scoreless stalemate at the break.
St. Charles East junior Logan Lewarchick finally broke through on a rush, and the play was capped by a feed to Colin Leatherbury, who popped the ball past North Stars goalie Alex Curtis from roughly 15 yards out with 34:32 left in the second half.
“I’m going to have to look back at the film on that goal we conceded to see exactly what broke down and led to that kind of space for them to be able to create and be able to score their goal,” North Stars coach Eric Willson said. “It’s a nice finish in the end, but I’d like to see where it broke down on our end on film.”
Lewarchick, who perhaps was a bit underrated outside of the Saints’ program, probably isn’t anymore at this point in the season.
“Logan is a player, man,” DiNuzzo said. “I think everyone is starting to see that. We’ve known that since his sophomore year, but this year, he’s kind of been able to be a little more effective just with his confidence in that attacking third [and] taking players on. ... Making runs taking off up the seam as a forward. Now people are starting to understand who he is. He’s a special player.”
Curtis had four saves for the North Stars (7-4-3), who are 0-3-1 in four games since Sept. 15.
“I think it was a hard-fought game. It’s a North-East game that goes back and forth. Both teams had some looks,” Willson said. “[Rolon] makes a great save on Walter [De La Paz’s] free kick [in the second half]. [Curtis] comes out and makes a nice save. Look, it’s a rivalry game that’s back and forth. I thought it was a hard-fought, well-played performance on both sides.”