Ah, the life of a striker.
Most of the time, your coach believes you should have scored -- maybe the fans, too.
Nikola Vukovic knew that feeling Tuesday night after having had his fair share of scoring chances.
But the Hersey senior finished when it counted most. In the 88th minute, Vukovic earned man-of-the-match honors when he steered the game-winner into the back of the net to give the host Huskies a 3-2 victory over Schaumburg.
"He could have had 2, 3 goals tonight," said Hersey coach Darren Llewellyn, making sure Vukovic heard him loud and clear.
"Coach is right, I should have had a couple more," Vukovic said. "It was one of those nights, but I am glad I got the one we really needed."
The Huskies (5-3-0, 3-0-0, 9 points) picked up their second OT victory in their last three matches after falling behind 2-0 at the break. During that span, they looked about as disorganized as possible, according to their coach.
"Just plain ugly soccer on our behalf for the first 40 minutes tonight," said Llewellyn.
The warning signs were there from the opening whistle, with the visiting Saxons (2-3-2, 2-2-0, 6 points) coming off a less-than-sparkling effort in their tournament finale last Saturday against Hinsdale Central by starting brightly. Schaumburg scored in the fifth minute, then adding another goal eight minutes before intermission to finish a terrific first period.
"I didn't know what to expect after playing so poorly against Hinsdale, but we did so well with our possession, and played quick and fast through the midfield," said Saxons coach Hamid Mehreioskouei. "I really felt we could have added another goal or two before the break, which looking back at it now, would have likely put (Hersey) away for good."
Christian Huerta put the ball in the net after teammate Alan Santana's free kick eluded Huskies keeper Irving Velasquez. Huerta doubled the Saxons' lead when Santana and AJ Syverton helped their teammate to score from close range with a low drive.
The Saxons had a goal pulled back in the 28th minute on an off-sides call, and just before the break Syverton cleared a would-be goal off the line following a well-run counter by John Cappuccitti, Ryan Nuebling and Vukovic.
Hersey wasted little time cutting the lead in half when Dan Gramer unloaded an absolute bomb into the upper right corner from 35 yards.
"Dan's goal gave us life," said Vukovic.
Inspired by the Gramer stike, the Huskies threatened nearly every time they went forward for the next 10 minutes, with Vukovic pushing his shot just wide when he found himself all alone in the 52nd minute.
A well played early ball from Cappuccitti and then Vukovic helped spring Nuebling. But Saxons keeper Dan O'Connell, who roared off his line on several occasions, did so once again to send Nuebling's attempt around the post.
"Their keeper probably saved 2-3 goals from us tonight, he did a very good job," said Llewellyn.
O'Connell could nothing about the equalizer from Cappuccitti. It came in the 68th minute when the junior bent a long shot up and over O'Connell.
Both sides showed plenty more urgency after the match was leveled, with Alex Mueller taking a ball out from near the line after Santana and Huerta conjured up some trouble, and Kacper Wasilewski going close as well for the visitors, who pushed for the go-ahead strike in the final minutes of regulation.
"We had a ton of serves into the box and around their keeper, but they didn't result in a whole lot because we didn't get on the end of them, and many of them lacked the type of pace needed to create dangerous chances," said Mehreioskouei.
As the second extra session neared, Vukovic rose up to send the Huskies' faithful home happy. Tom McDonald's long throw-in was allowed to fall inside the Saxons' box for Vukovic to finish.
"Not a whole lot of style points in this one tonight," said Llewellyn, "but a win nonetheless."
Conant 1, Buffalo Grove 0: Senior Blake Fairbanks scored a first-half goal for the host Cougars, and goalkeeper Patryk Openchowski made 6 saves as Conant handed the Bison (7-2) their first MSL loss.
Palatine 2, Rolling Meadows 1: Senior Ulises Alcaraz had one of the host Pirates' first-half goals, and Palatine goalkeeper Kyle Leber made 4 saves. Senior Noe Zarate scored for Rolling Meadows, which suffered its first MSL defeat.
Prospect 4, Hoffman Estates 0: Ryan Srednicki (assisted by Matt Wruskyj) and Kennedy McNamara (assisted by Matt Burikas) had goals for visiting Prospect (1-4-2, 1-2-1) which also scored twice on own-goals.
Knights goalkeeper Jack Cooney made 7 saves.
Fremd 6, Wheeling 2: The host Vikings rolled to victory in an MSL crossover.
Leyden 3, West Aurora 1: Juan Recendez and Christian Hernandez had first-half goals as the host Eagles earned a nonconference victory.
IMSA 3, Christian Liberty 1: David Colbert scored a second-half goal with an assist from Tom Salsgiver, but it wasn't enough as the visiting Chargers fell short in nonconference play.