Benet gives Fenton the challenge it sought
Fenton and Benet are not traditional rivals, but each saw the benefit of playing the other.
"I just feel like we can keep up with these teams," said Fenton coach David Alvarez, understanding the truism that soccer teams don't improve by beating up on weaker opponents.
"Not many people know about Fenton, but we're a (Class) 2A school and we're going to play the top 2A schools and we're going to play 3A schools," Alvarez added, noting some of the bigger schools on his schedule, including Benet. "I'm not afraid to play those guys. If you want to be one of the best, you have to play what's considered some of the best."
While Alvarez got a good challenge for his players, Benet coach Sean Wesley got the good result, a 3-1 nonconference victory in Lisle. Benet also sees an opportunity to gets itself and its players in front of a new audience for sectional seeding and individual awards at the sectional meeting.
"For a year or two kids just didn't get noticed," Wesley said, noting Benet doesn't play many teams in its new sectional.
The Redwings (6-0-1), ranked fourth in the Daily Herald Top 20, also got a good challenge and a different look as well as the result.
Benet had the bulk of possession and peppered Fenton goalkeeper David Sanchez with 24 shots, 14 in the first half. The Redwings got their first goal in the eighth minute when a Theo Athanassiades cross following a short corner kick went through the Fenton goalmouth, where Paddy Lawler dummied a touch on it to fool the Fenton defense as the ball rolled into the goal.
"We've been practicing the short corner all year, and we saw a chance to play it near post," Athanassiades said. "It just worked out in the end. Paddy had a great dummy and then it just went through the goalie and went in."
Benet kept pressing and earned a second goal in the 33rd minute, Kyle Kenagy getting behind the Fenton defense and chipping a shot over the onrushing goalkeeper.
"It's a young group, but that's no excuse. We're giving them the information that they need to be successful. It's on them to execute," Alvarez said of his team's first-half problems, blaming the players' youth.
The game went to 3-0 in the 64th when Michael Rindler again got in a 1v1 situation with Sanchez, this time slipping a roller under the goalkeeper for Trenton Wray to finish easily. Still, the Redwings rued missed opportunities.
"We had a lot of possession, especially in the first half," Athanassiades said. "We had a lot of control of the ball, we just had to put more chances away, finish them."
"We found open people but we just weren't great in the moment, that moment where you have to be great in soccer in the attacking third," Wesley said. "I felt we gave up the ball too easily, made it a little too easy for their goalie at times, didn't pull the trigger when we could have, missed the frame more than we'd like, and it turned into an interesting game at the end."
The Bison (1-3-1) pulled a goal back in the 73rd minute when a Raul Ayala pass over the top found the Benet defense outnumbered for the first time in the game, with Lucas Buchasz converting the pass into a goal.
"At least for pride, to make it more respectable. It shows them that you have to keep playing to the last whistle," Alvarez said.
Follow Orrin on Twitter @orrin_schwarz
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