Palatine's boys soccer team confirmed its early season promise with a hard-fought 1-0 victory at Chic Anderson Stadium on Thursday night against Hoffman Estates.
Jeremy Velinski's first-half goal stood up the rest of the way to give the Pirates (7-0-2, 4-0-1) another 3 points to help keep Willie Filians' club atop the MSL table with 13 points.
"What we do isn't always pretty, but we have a great bunch of kids who play hard and get along with each other, both when playing and away from the game," said Filian. "In high school, that can go a long way."
"We're friends, and we get after it, and we're finding ways to win soccer games," said Velinski, who finished what Dave Clark started following a corner, something which has staple in the Pirates' attack ever since Filian took over.
The visiting Hawks (1-6-0, 0-4-0) were a dangerous side whenever the ball found Luis Ortiz or Jorge Bravo, who together were a dynamic pair up top in the Hoffman Estates attack.
"We've got some players who can play, but we've got just (five) back from last year's team, and at times we've had four freshmen and three sophomores in our starting lineup," said Hoffman Estates coach Matt Sriver. "In the MSL, that's asking a lot of those young players."
A steady rain from the opening whistle made the going slick, but despite the dreadful weather, both sides played with plenty of energy and enthusiasm.
The Hawks' back line of Alex Tooren, Conrad Kieruzal and Mynor Sarti along with keeper Kyle Lancor had their hands full with Luis Vargas and Josh Lee every time they ventured forward.
"Josh and Luis start it all for us up top with their nonstop energy and pace to help give us plenty of high pressure, and Kyle (Clancy) and Kyle Leber keep it all organized and under control in the back as our sweeper-keeper combo," said Filian.
While the Hawks began to win some turf in the second half, they lacked the cutting edge in the final third to truly test Leber, who watched a trio of free-kick drives from Ortiz sail wide of the near post.
The Pirates' best chances to double their lead came following a well-served ball out of the back from Clancy. Velinski collected it down the right side before flashing his serve through the box, only to watch the ball fail to find one of his teammates.
Later, another long toss by Velinski forced Lancor far off his line, but Clark's return shot went well over the bar.
"We've been fortunate so far in a few of our results, but we're not giving up much, and we're doing well playing within ourselves," said Filian. "But we've got the likes of Barrington, Conant and Fremd still ahead of us, among others, so we've got to get better at what we do in order to put ourselves in a position to win those games."
Wheeling 3, Elk Grove 2: Jose Garcia provided the game-winner in the second, with the host Wildcats getting first-half strikes from Frankie Estrada and Alfredo Rocha.
Maine West 8, Maine East 0: Nelson Herrera scored twice and sixth other Warriors found the back of the net as Maine West's goalkeepers Jecsan Torres and Dennis Chronopoulos shared in the shutout.
Christian Liberty 2, Harvest Christian 1 (2 OT): The visiting Chargers trailed 1-0 in the second half before Jack Salsgiver tied things up with 44 seconds left. With three minutes left in the second OT, David Colbert took a corner kick and junior Travis Bennett headed in the game-winner at the near post.
Leyden 2, WW South 1: Juan Recendez scored as the Eagles picked up a nonconference victory.
Barrington 1, Conant 0: Junior midfielder Connor Hennelly scored in the second half to lift the host Broncos to an MSL West triumph. Pat Deroche made 6 stops to earn the shutout for Barrington.
Buffalo Grove 3, Rolling Meadows 2: The visiting Bison scored twice in the first half, then matched the Mustangs with 1 goal apiece in the second half to net an MSL East victory.
Senior Irving Balboa scored twice and Zach Masciopinto once for the Bison. Noe Zarate had the first-half goal for Meadows.
Prospect 1, Hersey 0 (2 OT): Matt Wruskyj's goal lifted the host Knights to an MSL East win as junior goalkeeper Jack Cooney made 13 saves to earn a shutout.