Reigning Mid-Suburban League boys soccer champion Palatine made a nice start to the new season with goals from Alejandro Vidal and Tyler Curylo which helped ensure a 2-0 victory Monday afternoon over host Highland Park on the turf at Wolters Stadium.
Vidal's strike near the hour separated the two sides, but it was the exquisite 74th-minute finish by Curylo, a junior, that sealed the Giants' fate to give the Pirates a win in the sixth annual Central Suburban/Mid-Suburban Soccer Challenge.
"It was a pretty good win and effort from the boys today," said Palatine coach Willie Filian, who's back for his 23rd year after leading his squad to a 16-2-3 record last fall. "We lost a lot of very good players, but as long as we get a work rate and effort like we did today, we'll be in good shape later on in the season."
Filian will lean heavily on the senior pair of Kyle Clancy and keeper Kyler Leber to lead the way. The duo looked to be in midseason form in the opener with returning all-area backliner Clancy keeping the hosts from putting anything serious on frame except once. And Leber turned away Jesus Leal with a brilliant point-blank stop just moments after Vidal scored.
"We lack experience, but I really feel as if this group is anxious to play and do the things needed to win games each time out," said Clancy.
"It's a good group of players we have, and if we work hard and guys step in where we lost others, we could be at the top of the table at the end of the season," Leber said.
Blake Novotnys' club, which won the CSL's North Division over Maine West last fall, was in its own end for long spells during the first period, and without some terrific work from keeper Juan Chavez could have been chasing 2 or 3 goals at the break.
The sophomore was at his best at 16 minutes when reached back to take a sure goal out of the net off an attempt from Sergio Hernandez. But later, Chavez had no chance to deny Vidal, who calmly slotted a long throw from Gavin Folotico.