St. Charles North took advantage of the set piece woes of Crystal Lake South to down the Gators 2-0 in the final match in pool play for both clubs Friday afternoon at the 25th Barrington Soccer Classic.
The North Stars (2-4-0) will complete tournament play today at 4 p.m. when they meet Marmion Academy, while Brian Allen's South squad takes on Wheaton-Warrenville South.
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"That's (5) goals out of (8) which have come off dead balls and set pieces," said a disappointed Allen, who even with a heavily populated roster of youngsters is beginning to lose his patience with his club's inability to defend those opportunities.
"We come to this tournament to get exposed to all sorts of systems, great coaching staffs and quality teams to get ourselves ready for play in the (Fox Valley Conference), and a hopeful run at the end of the season, but we're going to have to clean that part of our game up if we hope to compete."
"We really needed this win today," said a relieved Stars head coach, Eric Willson.
"We didn't want to go through pool play winless, and to see a new back line defend very well for 80 minutes, as well a glimpse of better all-around play from a lot of our young guys helps put a positive spin on this week, and the weeks ahead."
Play was a little chippy in the opening quarter hour, but things settled in when South began to play through Orlando Tapia and Charlie Ruff more frequently, much like the Stars did when they found Jonathan Acevedo, Phillip Legare and Brad Johnson in the middle of the park.
Gators' keeper Gus Alvarez was easily the man-of-the-match for his club as he was fearless in several key save situations, a few at point-blank range. Just after intermission, Alvarez ventured far off his line to punch a long-range freekick off the left boot of Jake Kerr, but the senior had no chance to stop Nick Graham, who knifed through the South defense to direct his shot into the back of the net off an Acevedo corner.
Kevin Sabres would insure the North Stars held their one-goal advantage when he turned away Tapia, then watched his counterpart make another superb save on a Legare freekick.
The North Stars doubled their lead with Legare ripping a 30-yard angled shot the other way at 60 minutes.
Ruff, Matt Tobolt and Tapia would each have a go on frame in the final quarter hour, but none of the three attempts were dangerous enough to worry the North Stars' faithful.
"We start the season against Neuqua, then New Trier and Boylan here, and that's a rough go for a young, inexperienced club," began Willson.
"But we got through it, played some blue collar soccer, and we're able to grind one out today."