Grant's boys soccer team has made steady progress in its early-season invitational in recent years.
The Bulldogs have been proving that they can play with the better teams.
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They did again Saturday. For more than a half against a quality Cary-Grove squad, Grant was competitive before the Trojans exploded for 5 goals en route to a 6-0 win that netted them the championship in Fox Lake. Three of the goals came in an eight-minute span.
An hourlong lightning delay just eight minutes into the match failed to faze C-G.
"I thought things went well, but we knew Cary-Grove would be a tough opponent," said Grant coach Bryan Mark, whose team dropped to 2-1-2 overall and finished 2-1 in the tournament. "We expected them to be a tough team to beat. We took care of business against Harvard and Grayslake North, and then we got a really good test against Cary-Grove."
The Bulldogs got past Grayslake North and Harvard in overtime earlier in the week to set up the title game showdown against Cary-Grove (3-2, 3-0).
"The whole tournament, we kept our heads in it," Mark said. "We just kept fighting against (Cary-Grove)."
Cary-Grove's Kevin Cooke broke a scoreless tie in the 31st minute with Joey Klawitter earning the assist.
"We were playing hard and putting forth the effort, but we weren't concentrating," Cary-Grove coach Mark Olson said. "We had no rhythm in the first half. You have to give Grant credit because they were playing hard against us. Once we focused all the way through, good things started to happen."
The Trojans found the back of the net three times in eight minutes, starting with Dale Opasser scoring off another assist from Klawitter in the 44th minute. Klawitter netted a goal of his own three minutes later, and Kevin Wilde knocked in a Brett Schuerg service in the 52nd minute.
Patrick McKune and Danny Kinnerk finished the scoring.
The Trojans started the season with consecutive losses to Rockford Boylan and Barrington, before taking three in a row at Grant.
"Our first two games are generally rough," Klawitter said. "This tournament kind of dictates where we are and helps our chemistry come together. We just played more with our feet (in the second half) and tried not to give the ball away unnecessarily."
Grayslake North won the third-place game 2-1 over Harvard, scoring twice in less than a minute late on regulation.
The Knights had a 50-minute halftime because of a lightning delay. They trailed 1-0 to a Harvard team that knocked them out of the Class 2A sectional semifinals last year. Grayslake North (3-4, 1-2) got goals from Marcelino Vasquez and Andreas Thedorf in the 72nd minute.
"We were hungry in front of the net and both goals came right out in front," said Grayslake North assistant coach Jesse Wolter, who filled in for head coach Adam DeCaluwe, who was at a family wedding. "You can't ask for anything more from these guys. We just needed some pressure, intensity and pride."