Meeting for the first time since last October in the regional final, Streamwood and Elgin came together for an Upstate Eight River Division boys soccer contest on a hot and humid Wednesday afternoon on the turf at Millennium Stadium Wednesday.
The Sabres (5-1-0) used two first-half strikes from Edwin Rueda, and plenty of support from his midfield mates Nestor Ascencio and Christian Vences, to secure a hard-fought 3-0 victory.
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"(Elgin) is one of our true rivals, all the players know each other (and) this year, they probably had a little chip on their shoulders coming with us beating them last October in the regional final," said Sabres head coach Matt Polovin, who led his club to its first regional championship last fall.
"David (Borg, Elgin head coach) has a nice team, and they played us very well in the first half, but our fitness is very strong, and you could sense in the last 20 minutes or so, (they) had lost their legs."
Perhaps the intense rivalry both Polovin, Borg and several players spoke of later on might have had something to do with a rather chippy opening, which in the first 10 minutes saw the center official book three players, while blowing his whistle on several fouls, mostly on 50-50 balls in the air or on the floor.
Once things settled in, the home side played through its all-state captain Ascencio nearly each time it went forward, and when the Sabres' senior connected with Christian Campos, it allowed the aforementioned Rueda to drive home the first goal of the game at 11 minutes.
Campos had a glorious chance to double the Streamwood advantage moments later when he gathered a well-struck ball out of the back from Ascencio, carried to the near post pulling Maroons keeper Flavio Jaimes to that area, only to drive his shot directly at Jaimes, and not the open spot at the back post.
The Maroons (3-2-2) would finally get themselves back into the game at 20 minutes when Jose Jaimes put a dangerous ball at the near post from the endline, forcing keeper Sergio Blanco to make his first save, which led to another more difficult stop on a wicked 35-yard blast off the foot of Edgar Zavala.
"We had our chances in the first half, but our overall play in the second was much better but, and this is no excuse for losing, but it looked as though our match with Batavia (Tuesday) night really took a lot out of us today," offered Borg.
Elgin would concede an own goal in the 80th minutes in a 3-2 defeat against Batavia.
The Sabres were guilty of a trio of offsides calls in the first quarter of the second period, with the visitors running a well-disguised trap to slow their opponents, but the Maroons and Flavio Jaimes could do nothing when Vences' 20-yard freekick strike roared through the wall and into the back of the net to help ensure the victory.
"We could have likely played a little bit better all the way around, but we did possess pretty well today, and we took the fight out of very scrappy Elgin team in doing so, and in the end, it's all about getting an important conference and divisional victory," said Polovin.