Wheeling's season opening-victory at Deerfield on Monday night signaled what promises to be a rather busy and hectic first week of the 2013 campaign for coach Ed Uhrik's boys soccer team.
And perhaps it could be an eye-catching season in the Mid-Suburban League for the Wildcats.
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Wheeling exploded with 4 goals in the second period goals to top the host Warriors 4-0 in a Central Suburban/Mid-Suburban Soccer Challenge match on the turf at Adams Stadium.
Captain and returning all-area midfielder Jose Garcia worked tirelessly to make his presence felt as teammates Ivan Mancilla and Luis Herrera provided extra pace and energy. The trio had a hand in all 4 strikes, including the first of the night, which came three minutes after intermission.
"I felt like we had the run of play for most of the first half, but we weren't able to finish our chances which in the past might have come back to haunt us because we let one in, then we have trouble keeping ourselves mentally in the game," Uhrik said. "But as you can see from tonight. We have a lot of skill, and players who can attack and put the ball into the net. But we've put a lot of our focus on defending, and we hope tonight's shutout result is the first of many this season."
The return of Nathan Laude, who missed nearly all of the 2013 campaign while receiving treatment for a stomach tumor, is key for Uhrik and his club. With the senior firmly set in the middle of the backline, the hosts rarely had the opportunity to test either Gary Mendoza or Javier Ocampo, who shared in the shutout for Wheeling.
After creating plenty of quality chances in the first 40 minutes, Wheeling scored when Mancilla's deadly half-volley from inside the 18 beat keeper Troy Kayne.
Kayne made a trio of sensational saves during a second period which saw the Wildcats steadily applying pressure. A clever little short corner saw Garcia trick his way free along the far touchline before slotting under the diving Kayne to give the Wildcats a 3-goal advantage at 71 minutes.
The Wildcats open up pool play at the 28th Titan Invite at Glenbrook South at 5:45 p.m. Wednesday against Loyola Academy.