A beautifully crafted first strike from Josh Lee, and second-half goals into the wind from Matt Ryan-Darrah and Cesar Valdez helped Mid-Suburban League leader Palatine to a 3-1 boys soccer victory over crosstown rival Fremd on Wednesday to grab back the highly valued Kinsella Cup trophy.
Soccer and the rivalry between the teams, however, took a definite back seat in the waning moments when Fremd's Kamil Grudzien appeared to suffer a serious injury after colliding with Pirates keeper Kyle Leber as they pursued a ball.
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After a long delay while the Vikings senior was attended to by paramedics and medical staff on hand, Grudzien appeared to be aware of his surroundings before being transported to Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights.
"Everybody knows everybody from both teams -- many of us grew up together -- so it's hard to watch something like that happen," said Leber. "We're all hoping (Kamil) is OK and will be back with his teammates very soon."
Leber, in a great show of sportsmanship, joined his teammates and embraced Fremd's players individually after the match was officially called with just over 70 seconds left in regulation.
"On the game side of things, we were listless for most of the night, totally outplayed, and never found any type of rhythm," said Fremd coach Steve Keller, "which is disappointing when you look at how well we've played in the past three, four games."
Keller pulled the Pirates players aside to give them some positive words in an attempt to ease the minds of the distraught opposing group.
Lee took advantage of a communication breakdown along the back to slip his shot into the back of the net just two minutes into the match.
After that, he and Jeremy Velinski kept the pressure on Fremd with long throw-ins aided by strong winds at their back.
After a relaxing first period in net, Leber turned in a brilliant effort after the break, the best of his work coming in the 53rd minute when, with an acrobatic save, he stopped a guided missile from senior midfielder Jon Magnusson.
Moments before, the Pirates (9-0-2 overall, 6-0-1 MSL, 19 points) had scored a second goal with a sweetly struck drive from Valdez after a Velinski throw was kept alive by Dave Clark.
"Kyle had a great night for us, especially in that second half, and if he doesn't stop that shot then our lead is cut in half, and you know that Fremd is going to really come at us," said Palatine coach Willie Filian.
The Valdez goal inspired an already confident Palatine team which, even with a strong wind in its face, took the run of play away from the visitors.
Leber was assisted by some fine work from defenders Kyle Clancy, Matt Fleischhauer and Ulises Alcaraz, even as the wind grew stronger.
Keller changed his formation to a 3-4-3 near the hour mark, pairing Jeremy Kosacz alongside Zach Schoffstall and Lucas Cholewa with hopes of prying open the Pirates along the back line.
But on this night it wasn't to be, and in the 71st minute, Ryan-Darrah ran onto another long throw from the far flag by Velinski to redirect past keeper Nathan Duffield.
"Fremd has been playing so well, so to get that first goal, then add another into the wind early in the second half kind of changed the complexion of the game and allowed us to play a little different and more cautious," said Filian, whose team stayed 4 points ahead of Barrington in the overall league standings.
Standings and rivalries seemed secondary, however, in light of the serious late-game injury.
"Obviously, this game doesn't seem so important when you see a young man injured like he was," said Filian, "and at this point, all we can hope for him is a quick recovery, and best wishes to him and his family."
Barrington 2, Rolling Meadows 1: Visiting Barrington scored twice in the second half to earn a Mid-Suburban League crossover win. Noe Zarate had a second-half goal for the Mustangs.
Chicago Latin 3, Christian Liberty: The visiting Chargers fell short in nonconference play despite 20 saves from junior goalkeeper Aaron Karr.