High-flying Wheeling marched past an inexperienced squad from Jacobs in a boys soccer breakfast special matchup Saturday in Wheeling.
The Wildcats extended their terrific start to 8-0-1 after a 7-0 triumph.
The visting Golden Eagles (3-3-1) saw their foes take control with 3 goals in quick succession during the first quarter-hour.
"We feel we have the players to be able to attack with the best of them, but what we are most proud of this season is our defense," said Wheeling coach Ed Uhrik, whose back line, led by senior Nate Laude, has conceded just 1 goal this season, in a 1-1 tie against defending state champ Warren, thus far.
Each of Wheeling's wins has been by shutout.
"We've worked so hard on defending, and along the back we are a tight unit and one that trusts each other every step of the way," said Laude, who wears the captain's armband along with all-state candidate Jose Garcia. "This team can score goals, but when you look at the scores around the conference, every game is a 2-1, 1-0 result. It's going to be who can defend when it really counts, and we now feel like we'll be able to compete not only because of our offense, but our team defense as well."
Jacobs started with plenty energy in at attempt to slow the MSL leaders, but it wasn't long before coach AJ Cappello's team found itself chasing the lead on the first of 2 goals from Luis Herrera.
"Wheeling might end up being one of the best teams we play all year, but it wasn't our lack of effort or work rate that did us in," said Cappello, whose team had a two-game win streak snapped. "It was our lack of experience, and the ability of Wheeling to move the ball quickly, put us under pressure, and find their players deep in our end."
After Herrera finished what Juan Hernandez started at 11 minutes, Marino Lopez doubled the lead two minutes later when he met a serve from Ivan Mancilla with a thumping header. Laude made it 3-0 with a 15-yard drive when Jacobs was unable to clear a long serve from Mancilla.
Ten minutes later, the Wildcats were at it again with Garcia getting on the end of a nicely played counter from Fabian Acosta and Elias Cisneros. Then Garcia drove his searing free kick through the wall and past keeper Spencer Dixon, who had no chance on this one.
"We could have packed it in and just given up after the first 40 minutes, but to the credit of this team, which is a hard-working, bunch of great guys, they didn't, and I was very proud and impressed with that," said Cappello.
"Yes, we could have given up, but we didn't," said Jacobs tri-captain, Austin Ryan, a two-sport star who's qualified twice into the state wrestling tournament. "With such a young team, it's all about being accountable, playing with pride, and trying to learn from your mistakes. I really feel we tightened things up a lot in the second half and had a pretty good showing after a tough first half."
Jacobs' Aaron Camp, who came on for Dixon in goal just after the second period opened, stopped Danny Maldonado on a chance at the near post. But in turning away the close range shot, Camp allowed a rebound to spill freely to Herrera, who put it away for second goal and a 6-0 Wheeling lead.
Marcus Inglisa, Nick Voss and Ryan became more active to help inspire some sprited play for the Golden Eagles, and with senior Mitch Materna and his mates marking the Wildcats closer, Jacobs was able to keep the hosts out of the back of the net until Cisneros increased the Wheeling lead to 7-0 in the 65th minute.
"We had a tough one the other night against Schaumburg (a 1-0 victory), and it was nice to have a match like we did today," said Uhrik. "But the road gets a little tougher this week, beginning on Tuesday when we face Barrington, so we'll have a good idea of where we are after that."
The Golden Eagles get back to Fox Valley Conference play this week, with games against Grayslake Central and Johnsburg before heading west to play in the Rockton Hononegah Invite beginning Friday.