A five-minute, 3-goal explosion by Elgin St. Edward just after intermission blew open a close match with Christian Liberty Academy to inspire a 5-1 victory by the Green Wave on Monday in a nonconference soccer match in Arlington Heights.
Senior Johnny Shepherd completed his natural hat-trick by strking for 2 goals just three minutes apart to give the visitors a 3-goal advantage before Kevin Olenik added a third goal by the Green Wave (6-10-0) in the 47th minute to all but end the hopes of the home side on a sunny fall afternoon on the Chargers' pitch.
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"We told the guys at the half to stop being too fancy and to just play simple, and once Johnny got 2 goals to give him his (natural) -- something you don't see in the sport of soccer too often -- things really opened up in our attack, and we just didn't stop there," said Green Wave coach Tim Brieger.
Olenik and Joe French were a nice 1-2 combination, and when Olenik returned a wonderful ball to his mate in close, the Green Wave nearly found the back of the net during a scrum in close if not for some heady work by the Chargers' backline.
The visitors might have enjoyed a little more of the possession percentage in the opening half-hour, but the Chargers (2-10-3) clearly had the best chance to get onto to scoreboard when it found itself inside the 6-yard box twice in the first half, and one other time after the break -- much to the chagrin of coach Jed Bennett.
"We had a couple of glorious chances, and didn't finish," he said, "so who knows what might have happened if we could have put one or two of those into the net."
St. Edward allowed David Colbert to find Connel McHigh at the back post alone, but the shot sailed over the bar in the 18th minute. Later, Colbert linked beautifully with Jack Salsgiver, who found himself unmarked as well at the back post, but the Chargers' former starting keeper sprayed his shot wide.
"We moved (Jack) out front to help give our attack a little more of a boost, and Aaron Karr has taken over 6, 7 games ago, and has done an excellent job for us," said Bennett.
Despite allowing the 5 goals, Karr had no chance on any of them, including Shepherds' first in the 38th minute when he stayed with a loose ball in close after Olenik's flip throw created the chance.
The Green Wave roared out of the gate to begin the second half after a short corner executed by Olenik and French helped put Shepherd in at 42 minutes.
The midfielder scored unassisted in the 45th minute, stepping up on a Chargers defender to collect a wayward ball before driving a low smash past the diving Karr.
"We are so missing the senior leadership that we had last year which would have stopped (that) kind of second-half start by St. Ed's -- and it's something which is hard to watch, knowing it might as well be 100-0 with the way that the guys just kind of hang their heads when we get down a goal or two," said Bennett.
Joe Martell ran onto a Austin Pfeiffer corner to head in the fifth consecutive Green Wave goal.
Salsgiver ended the visitors' hopes of a shutout by scoring in the 77th minute.
"Hats off to Christian Liberty, because they played hard until the end, and were rewarded for (it) with their late goal," said Brieger. "We had some good play through the middle in that second half, and created a lot of good chances by just playing simple.
"This group of seniors have all been four-year starters, and they've gone from just 2 wins as freshmen to 4 during their sophomore and junior years to 6 already this season, despite being in a tough soccer conference."
The Green Wave will see one of those high profile sides on Tuesday when they travel to Marmion Academy, which stands atop the Suburban Christian Conference table with a 4-0-0 record.