Buffalo Grove completes dominant effort at Lake Park
Buffalo Grove wrote itself into the tournament history book after its 4-2 victory Saturday morning over host Lake Park to capture the team title at the Hillner Classic in Medinah.
Zach Masciopinto fired in three straight goals after the Lancers (4-3-0) stunned the undefeated Bison (5-0-0) with 2 goals in the opening 10 minutes.
Tournament MVP Irving Balboa had a hand in the first two from Masciopinto to help Buffalo Grove complete a four-match sweep this week by overwhelming the competition with 21 goals while conceding just 2.
"I knew when we got ourselves even at (2) that we wouldn't stop there," said Masciopinto, who alongside senior Irving Eloiza, perhaps the top midfielder in the MSL this season, were far too much for the Lancers.
Despite the defeat, Lake Park enjoyed a solid first full week under head coach Anthony Passi, who took over for long-time Lancers coach Norm Hillner; he retired following the end of the 2011-2012 school year.
"We lost nearly all of our guys from last year," said Passi, "and we have a bunch of players without much varsity experience at all. And for awhile we put a scare into (the Bison), but they are a highly skilled team, with plenty of great attacking players, especially all along the middle."
The hosts got off to an ideal start when a poorly played ball in the Bison' end was collected by Kevin Coria, whose quick touch to teammate Kris Lopez caught the visitors a little unorganized.
Lopez turned and fired past the out-stretched gloves of Anthony Pawlicki, who came off his line to cut the angle on the Lancers sophomore. But Lopez's shot was superb, and the ball eluded the Bison keeper before going just inside the far post at five minutes.
Just four minutes later, the Lancers doubled their lead when a long throw into the box was not properly cleared, allowing an opportunistic Oliver Horgan drive home his volley from inside 10 yards.
"It was a little ugly at that point," said Eloiza, "but in a way, it was a good test for us as a team to get down that early, then try to respond."
It didn't take long.
Magnificent helpers from Balboa and Eloiza put Masciopinto near the spot, and the sophomore promptly went past Lake Park keeper Stephen Mack to bring the Bison closer in the 13th minute.
Alberto Eloyza was inches away from the equalizer, but his shot curled around the post at 20 minutes. Moments later, Masciopinto found the back of the net when he headed Balboa's superb crossfield serve.
BG found it easy to possess and stay in the Lancers' end after equalizing, the the Bison were unable to solve the Lancers during the final 18 minutes of the first period.
"I thought for awhile we showed we could play with a team as good as Buffalo Grove, but they have so much firepower to deal with, and we struggled with that after they scored their second goal," said Lake Park junior Gustavo Contreras.
There was plenty of one-way traffic headed toward the Lancers end after the break. Masciopinto provided the game-winner when he finished just under the bar in the 44th minute despite Joe Keane's valiant effort to clear off the end line.
Demo Drakoulis' high work rate on the day was finally rewarded when he added one more goal onto the scoreboard at Krupke Field in the 60th minute.
"It was a good week for us as well, and we showed that we can attack, and create chances many different ways," said BG coach Rick Carlson. "But we'll have to be better defensively, especially in the MSL, so we'll continue to work hard at improving that end of things."
League play starts in earnest for the Bison this week with a match at Fremd on Tuesday, before they host Elk Grove on Thursday.
Lake Park travels to South Elgin on Tuesday and stays on the road two days later against St. Francis.
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