MCHENRY – Grayslake North caught a glimpse of how well its offense could run against McHenry on Tuesday afternoon.
The Knights used their fast forwards to push the pace against a young Warriors defense. Once Grayslake North got the ball into open space, the Knights worked together to score and eventually pick up a 3-1 win.
They were the better team. They are a fast, skilled, physical team and they forced us into some mistakes.— Tony Caruso, McHenry coach
“I don’t take anything for granted,” Grayslake North forward Javier Villegas said. “If I have an opportunity I’m going to make the most of it, so you have to take what’s best in life.”
McHenry created opportunities during the first 13 minutes of the match. The Warriors had two free kicks and a corner kick during that time but failed to score.
That’s when Grayslake North (2-1) used defensive momentum to lead to offensive success. The Knights moved the ball up the field after a missed Warrior corner kick opportunity and Sam Soriano found open space to shoot the ball on the move and score with 27:05 left in the first half.
The Knights made it a 2-0 game when Villegas’ corner kick snuck into the goal with 35:44 left in the match. Villegas added an insurance goal with 4:59 left in the match to secure the win.
Grayslake North features a new trio of Villegas, Soriano and Chris Fabela, all of whom have the speed to create chances on goal. Villegas is excited to see how the new trio does, while McHenry learned Tuesday afternoon.
“They were the better team,” McHenry coach Tony Caruso said. “They are a fast, skilled, physical team and they forced us into some mistakes.”
McHenry (1-1) made it a 2-1 Knights lead with 35:04 left in the match when Alejandro Mendez’ shot trickled past the goal line. But the Warriors failed to create many chances in the second half, with the Knights possessing the ball and creating nine shots on goal – McHenry had two in the second half.
Caruso thought his young defense played into too many mistakes that allowed Grayslake North’s forwards to score. He’s excited to see how well his team responds with a good learning lesson early in the season.
“It’s a good test for us to see what we need to work on,” Caruso said. “They forced us into some mistakes. Our guys will hopefully learn from that experience and shore up a few things in the back.”
McHenry will play Wednesday in the Wauconda Tournament, while Grayslake North will play Johnsburg on the road Saturday.
The Knights are encouraged by their early start to the season after winning only three matches last season and going through growing pains of a young team. With strong performances like the one Tuesday, Grayslake North is confident it has what it takes to put together a strong season.
“Now it’s a matter of them getting that taste out of their mouth from last year,” Grayslake North Adam DeCaluwe said. “That belief, camaraderie and buy into the system.”