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updated: 9/22/2012 12:51 AM

Conant, Schaumburg battle to draw

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By Mike Garofola
Daily Herald Correspondent

Curtis King scored twice to fuel two Conant comebacks on a rainy homecoming evening Friday at Schaumburg as the two Mid-Suburban West boys soccer clubs played to a 2-2 draw.

A big crowd at Gary Scholz stadium saw a match of few chances play out to a full 100 minutes.

King, a senior, and his goalkeeping teammate Patryk Openchowski, shared man-of-the match honors for the Cougars (5-5-1, 2-3-1).

Openchowski, also a senior, saved the day for the visitors with a pair of sensational stops in goal, the second coming just moments after King drew Conant even in the 69th minute.

"You're never satisfied with a draw, but on a night where there's a huge crowd, and this being such a big game for Schaumburg, we're happy with the result against one of our biggest conference rivals," said Conant coach Jason Franco.

A cold, hard rain greeted both sides at the onset, but it didn't take long for the hosts to warm up as Collin Walther steered his left-footed drive high into the back of the net, just over the outstretched gloves of Openchowski.

Jessie Lopez and Raul Alcala were credited with assists on the 13th-minute goal. But King, who began the season along the back line for the Cougars, found the equalizer when he brought down a marvelous ball over the top from Giovanny Rocha and finished past Schaumburg keeper Dan O'Connell.

"Gio gave me some great balls tonight, but I wished I had finished the last one he gave me for the game-winner," said King, who has scored in three consecutive matches.

Carlos Sarasti was victimized by Openchowski at 24 minutes when the Cougars keeper went horizontal with full extension to turn around a bullet of a shot. Then it was O'Connell's turn to save a would-be goal after Rocha put through Chase Hermanson; his attempt to chip O'Connell was pulled out of the sky, no easy task with the wet and slippery conditions.

Sarasti gained a measure of revenge just four minutes into the second period with a nifty shot into a small open spot at the far post.

It took nearly a half hour before the Cougars got even. King again took advantage of some sloppy work in the Saxons' end by breaking free of his markers to get just enough pace on the ball to score.

Another acrobatic stop by Openchowski, this time on Walther at point-blank range, stopped the Saxons (3-4-3, 3-3-1) from getting back in front three minutes after the visitors drew even.

King poked the ball past his defender to get it on O'Connell in the 82nd minute, but this time his shot was stopped by the Saxons keeper.

The final period was played mostly in the Cougars' end, yet Schaumburg failed to get anything of quality on frame before the referee whistled the proceedings over.

"Tactically, we did a lot of good things tonight, but we're not sharp enough in the final third," said Schaumburg coach Hamid Mehreioskouei. "What we really needed, and have all year long, is for someone to make their own statement on the game and do something individually that helps us find the back of the net. It was a great atmosphere out there tonight, with the big crowd and all, but I wish we could have given them a win to celebrate."

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