ST. CHARLES – In a rain-sloshed back-and-forth tug of war, something had to break for either St. Charles North or St. Charles East.
The North Stars were able to draw a foul with 16:35 left in the second half and Walter DelaPaz’s scorcher to the bottom left corner was all the North Stars needed for a 1-0 victory over the Saints to finish Tri-City Soccer Night on Sept. 21.
North Stars senior goalie Alex Curtis emerged with the clean sheet. Saints senior keeper Jordan Rolon had five saves.
“I thought, quite honestly, both keepers had good games tonight,” North Stars coach Eric Willson said. “I think we’ve got two of the best goalkeepers in the conference. Both made some nice saves.
“I thought the backline was phenomenal. We stayed with four early and then just kind of thought it was time to change if we were going to start getting things going forward. So you go to a three-back system with a kid like Daniel Brown, who has been a midfielder and a winger for us. [He] has turned into a defender, and to be able to go to a three back and have comfort – of course we’re going to have comfort with guys like [Stefano] Nava and [Casey] Kriz who have been doing it forever – but Brown was awesome today going into that spot.”
It was the second victory for the North Stars (8-4, 3-0 DuKane Conference) over St. Charles East (9-4, 2-1) this season. The first was a 2-1 decision Sept. 2.
“It’s hard because the game is decided by a small margin, but credit to them,” Saints coach Vince DiNuzzo said. “They were able to find a goal tonight. It could’ve gone either way, but again, we come out on the other side of things not feeling great about it. We’ve got to find a way to win these winnable games and score goals. We can’t be shut out tonight. We had too many opportunities in that second half to not score a goal.”
Geneva uses balanced attack to ground Batavia
Trent Giansanti scored first for the Vikings (7-4-2, 2-0-1) with 33:14 left in the first half on an assist from Jackson Raby.
Batavia’s best scoring chance came on Michael Ruffo’s blast off the post with 7:17 left in the first half.
Reece Leonard gave the Vikings their second goal with 1:31 left before the end of the half, and despite tough defense by Batavia, Geneva’s clincher came on a gorgeous cross from Raby to Liam O’Donoghue, who artfully headed the ball in with 13:06 left.
“I feel like a lot of times – I did this last year against Batavia – the cross gets cleared away. It’s that second ball everyone clears up. I try and get that second run,” O’Donoghue said. “I’m usually on mark when it happens, so the keeper came on and I just kind of flicked it over him”
Raby, who had two assists, is “one of the hardest workers on the team,” O’Donoghue said.
“He goes hard into every tackle. He brings the standard for us,” O’Donoghue said. “In preseason, we talked about our standard and he’s the one guy that brings it every day into training. He talks all that he can, puts in really hard tackles and gets the energy high into practice.”
The Bulldogs are 1-8-2 and 0-3 in the DuKane Conference.
“They keep playing and that’s the thing,” Batavia coach Mark Gianfrancesco said. “A full 80 minutes, even though down 2-0 or down 3-0, they’re still playing. That’s been great all year. For these guys, a lot of these guys, it’s their second, third or maybe fourth year on varsity. A good core of them, it’s their second year. ... Last year was a struggle. We’d get down and they’d be just done, right? That’s not happening this year. They’re playing the full 80, regardless of the score, and that’s great to see.”