At first, St. Charles East boys soccer coach Paul Jennison didn't know what to do.
After all, the fifth-year Saints coach isn't accustomed to receiving title trophies from his own tournament.
Contact information ( * required )
St. Charles East (10-2-1) earned the first-place hardware following its 3-1 triumph over Plainfield Central (6-7-1) in Saturday's championship match of the Saints' 19th annual tournament.
"I'm getting used to handing these things off," Jennison said of the trophy. "This is the first time we've won it since I've been here. I think we may have won it last five or six years ago so that was great for us to do.
"My first year, we ended up losing by one goal because we tied Glenbard North but lost on a goal difference," added Jennison. "This year, we put a nice little run together."
The Saints, who outscored their four tourney foes by a staggering 21-4 margin, jumped out to an early lead when Andrew Shone beat Plainfield Central keeper Tyler Badertscher off a picture-perfect crossing pass from Kevin Kurtz less than 2 minutes into the match.
Nearly 10 minutes later, sophomore midfielder Jordan Moore sent a left-footed blast into the back of the net for a 2-0 lead.
"We knew that Plainfield (Central) would keep pushing no matter what so it was obviously nice to put that second one away," said Jennison.
The Wildcats cut the lead in half late in the first half after a tripping foul was called on the Saints during a corner kick. Mohamad Rashid converted the subsequent penalty kick to make it 2-1 at the intermission.
"I saw two guys hit the floor and the ball was in the keeper's hands," said Jennison. "But if the ref calls it, it is a penalty."
St. Charles East netted the only goal of the second half in the 68th minute, as T.C. Hull set up sophomore Zach Manibog for a 2-goal advantage.
The second half, which included several stoppages of play by the officials and an apparent ankle injury to Saints junior keeper Mike Novotny, wasn't necessarily a pretty one for either team.
"That game was a bit more of a scrap than we wanted," said Jennison. "I don't think the quality for either team was maybe the greatest. But it's always nice to get the win. I'm proud of the boys for the weeks' worth of work here."
While the Saints extended their unbeaten streak to 6 games, during which they have outscored their opponents, 35-8, Jennison talked about his team's solid defensive play.
"We're a very similar mindset to where we were last year," said the coach. "I think our thing this year is that we're better in the back. We're not giving up goals and that makes it a lot easier to go forward when you have confidence in the guys in the back."
One of "those guys in the back" was senior defender Michael Macek.
"Being a three-year varsity starter really helps," said Macek. "It gives me the experience so that I can help my brother (junior defender Cooper) and the new guys coming along. We have a lot of new guys on the back so it's good to calm them down."
St. Charles East plays host to Geneva Tuesday in the first game of the Tri-City Shootout.
"We're moving forward," said Jennison. "We've got a big game against Geneva and I think that game could really affect where we get seeded."