ADDISON – Addison Trail and Downers Grove South both hit a key juncture of their schedule on Tuesday night.
Through three games in the West Suburban Gold, the Blazers and the Mustangs were both undefeated in the conference. Addison Trail, though, entered the pivotal showdown with only one overall loss, while the Mustangs were one win away from a .500 record.
After losing to Rockford Boylan in the PepsiCo Showdown Series on Sept. 11, the Blazers reeled off a four-game winning streak which included a combined winning margin of 16-2. Meanwhile, the Mustangs rebounded from a two-game losing skid with wins over Willowbrook and Neuqua Valley.
In front of a small but spirited crowd of 110 people, the Mustangs gained a signature victory, pulling out a 3-2 win over the Blazers in Downers Grove. Downers Grove South (5-5-1, 4-0) and Addison Trail (9-2, 3-1) were locked in a 2-2 after two overtimes, but the Mustangs notched the win by virtue of winning the penalty kicks, 4-2.
“The key to our turnaround was our defense and possession,” Downers Grove senior midfielder Josh Venouziou said. “At the start of the season, that was lacking. This was a big win for us. I’m really proud of my team.”
Venouziou scored the first goal, drilling a shot into the back of the net in the 19th minute to indicate the Mustangs were in store for a special night. Ten minutes later, senior forward Jerry Smazil connected on a penalty kick attempt, hitting the ball into the far left post.
“This was a huge game for us,” Downers Grove South coach Jon Stapleton said. “The kids have worked really hard this year, but sometimes we’ve not gotten the result. This is a huge lift for us, especially with the seeding meeting coming up.”
The Blazers were the aggressor for most of the first half, with several shots in the first 16 minutes but coming up empty each time. After the Mustangs scored two first-half goals for a possible runaway victory, Addison Trail senior midfielder Alex Sandoval rocketed a shot into the back of the net from 35 yards to lower the deficit to 2-1 with 9:15 left until halftime.
In the second half, the Blazers had six early shots, including two saves by Downers Grove South junior goalie Zack Johnson, before finally cashing in on the equalizer goal on Sebastian Alicea’s goal off an assist from Ethan Olivia in the 66th minute. Alicea drilled a shot, off a one-hopper, from 8 yards out.
In the first overtime, Johnson added to his personal highlight-reel with two big saves in the first 5 minutes.
“Downers Grove (South) is a good team,” Addison Trail coach Ryan Dini said. “They’re coached really well. We always have good games against them. We lacked energy in the beginning, but when it comes down to PK’s, it’s by chance. It just didn’t go our way today, just one of those days. Downers Grove South is a good team, and they earned it.”