Glenbard West senior Jimmy Hernandez crossed the soccer ball into the penalty area, and Shawn Herrera headed it past Willowbrook goalkeeper Luke Ruszkowski in the seventh minute of Monday's West Suburban Conference crossover.
It proved to be all the scoring the Hilltoppers needed as they held on for a 1-0 victory over the Warriors in Villa Park.
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Glenbard West (6-1) got off to an aggressive start, dominating the possession game and attacking the Willowbrook defense. After having a shot saved in the third minute, Hernandez showed poise on his next scoring opportunity, dribbling around a defender in the far corner before lofting a cross toward Herrera, who finished it.
"I didn't see Shawn, but I knew he was going to be in the middle," Hernandez said. "I just kicked it in and hoped that he'd be able to make it and he did."
The quick start Monday coincides with the strong beginning of the season by the Hilltoppers, who have shut out five opponents. Their lone loss was a 2-1 decision to Lyons Twp. last Thursday.
"We're really happy we've been doing really good," Hernandez said. "Hopefully, we keep it that way and make it real far."
The Hilltoppers nearly took a 2-0 lead just before half, but Paul Selman's rising shot with two seconds left was secured by Ruszkowski.
Willowbrook (2-6-1) was outshot 10-2 in the first half but remained within striking distance. The Warriors came out more offensive-minded in the second half, registering three shots in the first eight minutes.
"Whenever we attack in the corner we spread out the opponent's defense," Willowbrook coach Peter Ginter said. "We need to do that more often, and I think they're starting to get that."
Nathan Hall, Gonzalo Villa and Jake Emanuel all had shots at increasing Glenbard West's lead in the second half, as did Selman, Hernandez and Herrera.
"You just have to work harder than them and not let any balls come toward your goal," Hernandez said. "That's what we did."
The Hilltoppers outshot the Warriors 21-6 and didn't allow a shot in the final 17:30, the last coming from Leo Solis that sailed far right.
Despite coming up short, the Warriors remain optimistic.
"They believe right now they can play with anyone," Ginter said. "They play with big hearts and they hustle. We've just got to get them more tactically sound and their first touch and things like that."