The first big test of the young season didn't end with the result the Hersey faithful had hoped for.
State ranked Morton got off to a bright start en route to a 1-0 victory over the Huskies (3-1-0) Saturday morning to advance to the finals of the Hinsdale South Invitational in Darien.
"No doubt this was a match we were looking forward to," said coach Darren Llewellyn, who watched his Huskies outscore Brother Rice and host Hinsdale South by a combined 10-1 in pool play as newcomer Michael Kaczor and 2012 all-area striker John Cappuccitti combined to pour in 7 goals.
"We weren't 100 percent going into this game with Conor (Reynolds) -- who's been a rock for us in the middle of the park and Kaczor a little banged up. But that's the way this sport goes, and it's the way it's going to be once the MSL gets going so it's good we learn to deal with a little adversity early instead of late."
The Mustangs (3-0-0), who exited early from the state tournament last fall after lifting the 2011 championship trophy, came out strong from the opening whistle behind Chabello Marquez, Jovany Garcia and Josiah Velos.
"We didn't defend well in that first 20 minutes, and it showed because Morton is highly technical and skilled and really put us on our heels," Llewellyn said.
The Mustangs' trademark possession game produced the only goal when Marquez beat keeper Cristian Carranza in the 11th minute.
"Our midfield, especially the guys on the outside had a very good day out there, with a lot of good combination play," said Mustangs coach Mike Caruso. "But we don't have a true finisher this season like we've had, and you saw us own the first 20 minutes, then Hersey and it was the same thing in the second half. If we could have put that second one in, then maybe it's a little easier, but we were really tested in the second half and that will be good for us later on."
Using superior size and power, the Huskies put plenty of pressure on Morton's backline and keeper Ian Chacon, who probably wished former all-state central defender Joel Leon (now at UIC) had stayed around one year longer.
A superb athletic save by Chacon turned a nasty blast from Cappuccitti around the post at 15 minutes. Jorge Castro had a quality strike on frame that Chacon saved.
The Huskies' last chance to equalize came in the 80th minute when Cappuccitti's free kick from just inside the midline resulted in a corner. But Chacon punched away Reynolds' throw into the box.
"We didn't move (much) in our attack the way we have, thus we just were not very sharp going forward," Llewellyn said. "But I thought we defended well in that second half, which we've been working on, and got ourselves some good tape to review (and) help remind our guys later on what to do and not do."