The Kaneland boys soccer team had to feel pretty good about itself when it took a 2-0 lead a little more than halfway through the first half of Thursday's Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference match against Rochelle in Maple Park.
The Knights had already beaten the Hubs handily earlier in the season, and had a two-goal advantage even though they weren't playing their best.
But, then the Hubs came to life, scoring three unanswered goals to win, 3-2.
"It's disappointing because we beat them 5-1 at their place earlier and we come here and we just don't play well," Kaneland coach Scott Parillo said. "You build up a 2-0 lead and even though you're not playing well, you're ahead. But, they caught us out of position a few times which is a big thing and they beat us."
Kaneland (9-5-1, 4-3-1) went ahead 1-0 with 22:16 remaining in the first half. Kushstrim Ismaili followed in a shot from Alex Gil that was denied by Hubs keeper Ryan Winterton, but Ismaili was there to clean it up.
The Knights extended their lead to 2-0 a little more than four minutes later when Thanasi Pesmajoglou dribbled past a defender and then displayed some fancy footwork to beat Winterton who had extended out too far from the goal.
It was just what the Knights needed after a sluggish opening 15 minutes.
"It was our third game in four days so we're tired," Parillo said. "But you know, you build a 2-0 lead and you have to close it out and we didn't. It started in warm-ups and we weren't mentally prepared for this game and it showed."
Rochelle (11-5-2, 4-2-0) has been a come-from-behind team all season and Thursday wasn't any different as the Hubs went to work quickly to score twice in the opening half to pull even at 2-all.
"That has been the story of our life this year every game except for a couple," Rochelle coach Keith Lamb said. "We come back and play strong and whenever you're down you have to battle back and they did that again today."
Brandon Villa put the Hubs on the scoreboard with 11 minutes left in the opening half and Juan Casillas scored the equalizer with 8:43 remaining before halftime.
"It seems like we're a comeback, second-half team," Villa said. "We try but don't do our hardest unless we're down for some reason."
Both teams had their share of chances to score the go-ahead goal in the second half.
Jordan Escobedo, Anthony Parillo and Julian DelReal, among others, all had decent chances in the final 40 minutes for the Knights, but couldn't finish.
"We just didn't finish, I mean, how many breakaways did we have today, five or six?," Parillo said. "If we score two of those six we win 4-3. We finish some of those and we win."
The Hubs scored the game-winner with 10:22 remaining on through ball that Villa was able to finish.
"I was very nervous and thought I was going to miss," Villa said of his 12th goal of the season. "I just tried to do nothing fancy and just get the goal."
While the loss was disappointing, and knocked the Knights out of contention for a conference title, they'll try to view it as just one bump in what's been a very solid season thus far.
"We probably played 20 good minutes today out of 80 and that's not going to get it done," Parillo said. "But we've been doing well and just didn't do it today. The kids were tired, and they learned a lesson, but we're already seeded they'll move ahead."