For your best entertainment dollar of the evening, Buffalo Grove was the place to be.
The high-flying Bison (7-0-0, 2-0-0) overcame an early deficit, then fired back with 4 unanswered goals before holding off upstart Elk Grove (2-1-3, 1-1-1) 5-3 in an a MSL East contest at Grant Blaney Stadium.
"That's a very good team that we played tonight," said Grens coach Joe Bush. "But we showed we could play and stay with them with a terrific showing in the second half, and that is what we'll take with us when we get back to training on Saturday."
For the second time in its last three matches, the Bison conceded a goal within the first eight minutes when Manny Pillado's superb free kick curled around a 3-man wall and into the back of the net from just outside the 18.
It took all of four minutes for the hosts to draw even with Demo Drakoulis doing the honors by beating keeper Daniel Alvarez to a 50-50 ball on a sequence initiated by Irving Balboa.
Drakoulis bagged the eventual game-winner in the 24th minute when he finished a long throw from senior Daniel Alvarez.
Balboa doubled the Bison lead with a marvelous free-kick strike after he and Rafa Arcos had worked a little magic to orchestrate a foul and the subsequent set piece.
"We have so many weapons on this team, and I we can score so many different ways, but we got ourselves in trouble tonight because we didn't play smart soccer with the lead, and we allowed Elk Grove to get back in the game in the second half," said Balboa.
BG captain Irving Eloiza, who sat the final 14 minutes of the first period after booked for dissent, stunned the Grens and brought the Bison faithful to their feet after unloading a 40-yard missile off the gloves of Alvarez. The ball reached the underside of the bar before falling over the end line.
"I really felt like we were motivated and ready to go out and go after them after the break -- then Irving hits that incredible shot," said Bush.
But to the credit of the Grens coach, his players didn't fold after the Eloiza goal. They got a boost when Gio Garcia snuck in his shot off a well-placed corner from Jonathan Arzeta just 60 seconds after the opening goal from Buffalo Grove.
Garcia pulled the Grens even closer when he finished Connor Murphy's serve in the 68th minute.
"We could have easily just have given up after Irving's goal put them up 4-1," said Garcia, "but we played even harder after that goal and really made a game of it in the second half."
The final 15-20 minutes were breathtaking at times, with the speed of play and multiple scoring chances created.
"We didn't manage this game very well," said BG coach Rick Carlson, "and we got very careless on both sides of the ball to allow (Elk Grove) to stay in the match, and actually get back in the game. We played a strong 40 minutes in that first half, then kept attacking and getting forward, and that's just something we're going to have to correct if we hope to have a long run at the end of the season."
Balboa put his club back in front by 2 goals with 10 minutes remaining with a low drive from 20 yards.
"There were some mistakes of inexperience and youth in that first half," said Bush, "but I am still quite pleased with our effort and ability to play some good-looking soccer against a team that is going to win a lot of games this season."
Prospect 1, Palatine 1 (OT): Both teams scored in the second half and then settled for a tie.
Joe Tuczak, getting an assist from Curtis Glennon, notched the goal for the host Knights (0-3-2, 0-2-1) while Dave Clark, assisted by Jeremy Velinski, scored for the Pirates.
Knights goalkeeper Jack Cooney made 13 saves while Pirates netminder Kyle Leber came up with 3 saves.
Hersey 2, Wheeling 1: Visiting Hersey edged the Wildcats, who received their goal from Erik Nova. Wheeling goalkeeper Javier Ocampo made 6 saves in a game that saw all the scoring in the first half.
Leyden 3, Hinsdale South 1: Leyden goalkeeper Konrad Dzoedzic made 6 saves as Leyden scored once in the first half and twice in the second.
Schaumburg 1, Hoffman Estates 0 (OT): Schaumburg senior midfielder Kacper Wasilewski scored the winning goal in overtime on an assist from Alan Santana.
Rolling Meadows 3, Conant 0: Rolling Meadows improved to 2-1-1 with 2 goals in the first half and one in the second.