Justin Pydo rescued Conant from what looked like an 80-minute draw with Wheaton North on Tuesday as the senior poked in the lone goal of the night in the 72nd minute to give the Cougars a 1-0 victory over the visiting Falcons in Hoffman Estates.
The win is also the first for the Cougars (1-1-0) in the Lake Park Invite, while North (0-3-1) dropped to 0-3-0 in tournament play.
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"Justin has been doing a real good in training for us, so we put him into the starting lineup for the first time this season, and not only did he respond with the winning goal, but I thought he also played real solid in the back for us as well," said Conant coach Jason Franco, whose club next plays Niles West on Thursday at 5 p.m. at Lake Park.
"It was a classic early season soccer match as far as I saw it," said Falcons coach Bryce Cann. "It still looks like both teams are still trying to figure some things out, and the play at times kind of showed just that. But after coming out flat in the first half, I thought we played much better in the second half, generated a few chances, and I saw some good things from the team during those 40 minutes."
Neither side created much going forward, but the Cougars' Gio Rocha and the Falcons' Isaac Roberts did generate some action through the midfield.
Rochas' long throw found Eduardo Campo at 11 minutes, but the senior's nifty side volley was stopped by Falcons keeper A.J. Biebergall, who was nearly perfect for the visitors.
Later, a well played early ball from Aaron Deeke found Sam Mason, who sprayed a shot wide of the Cougars' Patryk Openchowski in the Falcons' best look on frame of the first period.
Rocha collected a poorly played ball in the Falcons' end and quickly found Chase Hermanson. On the turn, the sophomore unleashed a shot at Bierbergall, who once again calmly saved the 15-yard shot to keep things even in the 32nd minute.
"We didn't do any spectacular tonight with our attack, but we worked hard and created some chances, especially in the second half, and could have gotten one or two of those chances into the back of the net," said Franco.
Just three minutes into the second period, Hermanson, Curtis King and Joey Connolly all had good looks on frame from just inside 10 yards -- but a post and two blocks by the Falcons' back line stopped the home side cold.
Wheaton North withstood the pressure and slowly earned back the run of play, which led to Roberts and Anders Zerlang working a nice 1-2 combination to get close. Soon after, a free kick from Roberts forced Openchowski to save in the 56th minute.
Rocha initiated the eventual game-winner when his free kick from the near touchline rattle around inside the Falcons' box long enough to give Pydo the chance to get just enough pace -- in a crowd -- on his shot to find the back of the net just eight minutes from time.
"That was a bit of some bad luck for us on that goal," said Falcons captain Brooks Joy. "That's kind of the way things have gone for us so far, but I really felt that we played much better tonight than in our previous three games."
The visitors pushed more numbers forward in the final minutes of regulation but were unable to solve the Cougars' defense, which is relying on one of it few holdovers from last season, Kevin Quinn.
"Defensively is where we have most of our experience this season, so I feel we will be in pretty good shape in the back while some of our new guys get more comfortable playing varsity for the first time," said Quinn.
The tournament continues for Wheaton North with an 11 a.m. Saturday contest against Downers Grove North.