HUNTLEY – Juan David Pacheco and Dundee-Crown knew what was at stake for Huntley on Thursday night.
After winning six straight matches and being a perfect 7-0 in the Fox Valley Conference, the Red Raiders looked to remain unbeaten in conference play entering their winner-take-all match against Crystal Lake South on Tuesday. All they needed to do was take care of business against D-C.
It seemed as if everything would go according to plan until Pacheco scored off a corner kick with 2:21 left to tie the match, 2-2, and that’s the way it ended.
The teams battled for another 20 minutes in overtime, but the shock had taken place, and D-C played spoiler in Huntley’s conference-title hopes. The Red Raiders still can win the title outright with a win over South.
“It felt amazing knowing that they were up for the title for conference and I scored and got their dreams down,” Pacheco said.
Huntley (14-2-1, 7-0-1 FVC) started the match determined, controlling the pace of the game and taking an early lead when Hayes Porsche scored in front of the D-C net just under five minutes into the game. The Chargers continued to put together contested shots at goal but nothing went in for much of the first half.
The Red Raiders added to their lead when Vinny Aguirre scored to make it 2-0 with 11:58 left in the first half.
D-C (11-3-2, 5-2-1) continued to do what it had done all match: put the ball on net. It finally came together when Pacheco scored on a scramble in front of the goal with 8:51 left in the first half, the response the team needed.
“That was huge,” D-C coach Reynaldo Vargas said. “We could’ve put our head down and said we’re done or fight a chip away. That was a fantastic reaction.”
The game became more physical in the second half, leading to stoppage of play for injured players and plenty of free and corner kicks. The key play came when Pacheco knocked in the critical goal off the corner to tie the match.
“They are probably the hardest-fought game we’ve had all year, it always is,” Huntley coach Matt Lewandowski said. “They always come with a lot of energy, they work incredibly hard and they earned every bit they got and they took a little bit from us.”
Huntley will travel Saturday to face Geneva before taking on Crystal Lake South in the critical FVC match Tuesday. With the postseason just around the corner, nights like the one against D-C can be helpful when the lights are the brightest.
“I think the result we have against a hard team represents what playoffs can be,” Lewandowski said. “I think it’s better to experience now and have that expense with a little bit of lack of success.”
For Vargas and the Chargers, nights like Thursday can be a perfect way to start momentum for the postseason.
“We knew we were going to come here for a tough game,” Vargas said. “For us, it’s more about creating that momentum going forward.”