Although Harvard has seven games remaining in the Kishwaukee River Conference, the Hornets grabbed the upper hand with Monday’s 3-2 overtime shootout victory over Woodstock North.
Both teams entered the game unbeaten in KRC play. The Hornets won the penalty-kick shootout, 5-3, to take the match. Harvard is 6-3 overall, 3-0 in the KRC, while North fell to 5-6, 3-1.
[ Read more: Harvard slips past Woodstock North in OT shootout ]
Harvard midfielder Oger Bernal said the victory, while giving the Hornets a slight edge, also makes them a marked team.
“It means we have to keep working harder,” Bernal said. “Every other team is coming for us right now. They want to beat the main team. We’re going to keep working harder every day. Our goal is to win the conference again. It’s been a couple years. We’re going to work for it.”
Harvard and North played a tight, entertaining match Monday. There only were three combined shots on goal for both sides in the first half. The offense picked up in the second half, with Harvard taking a 2-0 lead, only to have the Thunder score twice in the final 15 minutes to force overtime.
“A lot of the kids know each other. They play on the same clubs or know each other from growing up,” Hornets coach Victor Gonzalez said. “I knew it was going to be close, high energy, high intensity, limited opportunities. You had to put the ones [chances] you get away. It looked good for us at first, and they came back strong.”
[ Photos: Harvard vs. Woodstock North boys soccer ]
North has been a second-half team and proved it can come back. The Thunder faced 2-0 deficits in three of the past four matches and won the other two.
North coach John Sullivan wishes his team would shake that trend of falling behind.
“We have to play with the lead rather than playing from behind for huge chunks of the game, especially in conference games where we leave it up to the chances of a 50/50 penalty kicks,” Sullivan said. “We can’t come from a position of weakness every single time.”
With a senior-laden lineup, Sullivan wants the Thunder to do something special.
“We have a lot of seniors on this team,” Sullivan said. “This season means a lot to them. We want to send them home with some hardware, hopefully, and a good end-of-the-season result.”
The rematch will be Sept. 29 at Woodstock North.
“We’ll see them at their place,” Gonzalez said. “This puts us in a good position, 3-0. If we can take care of business, we should be fine.”
The other contender: Woodstock (5-2-1, 3-0) joins Harvard with unbeaten records in the KRC after its 2-0 triumph over Richmond-Burton on Monday.
The Blue Streaks, who would like to have some impact on the KRC race, play at Woodstock North on Thursday, then play at Harvard on Monday. Woodstock graduated seven starters, along with four other players who played in their rotation, from the 2021 spring team.
Woodstock was 10-0 in the spring to win its third KRC title in four seasons.
Heating up: Jacobs (4-3) stretched its winning streak to three games heading into Tuesday’s Fox Valley Conference matches. The Golden Eagles had beaten Chicago Taft, South Elgin and Larkin.
Jacobs lost a lot of last year’s team to graduation. Eagles coach Colin Brice said seniors Ruben Zarate, Karl Manlapid and Shotaro Seto have been instrumental in leading a young team. He also said senior Manny Gonzalez and sophomore Danylo Krylosahnskyy have been tough in goal.
Defense has kept Jacobs in a lot of matches. The Eagles have allowed more than two goals only once.
Noteworthy: Crystal Lake South (6-1-1) played in its first two matches without a victory last week. The Gators lost to Rolling Meadows, 1-0, and tied with Grayslake North, 1-1, but they still are considered one of the top contenders in the FVC. Huntley (7-1) also is seen as one of the FVC’s top teams and moved its winning streak to five matches with a 1-0 win over South Elgin on Saturday.