St. Viator opened the second half of its season by handling an undermanned St. Patrick team 6-0 Wednesday afternoon in an ESCC match at the soccer fields at Resurrection High School on Chicago's northwest side.
"It was a conference match, so each one of those is a must win for us, but we didn't come out and play our best soccer of the season, so that's something we'll have to do in our next game," said St. Viator senior Nick Winter, who put in his team-leading eighth goal of the season just four minutes into the period as the Shamrocks (3-7-3, 1-3-0) struggled keep pace.
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"We're a little banged-up and shorthanded right now, which isn't the best place to be when one of the top teams in our conference is here," said St. Patrick coach Dave Nowak, who was missing four starters, including captain and standout striker Nick Kapetanos.
Fresh off a heartbreaking finish at the Pepsi Showdown, where the Lions (7-3-1, 2-0-0) fell in the quarterfinals to Libertyville in PK's before struggling in a 3-2 victory in its tourney finale against Plainfield East, St. Viator coach Mike Taylor wasn't sure what to expect from his team against the host Shamrocks.
"That Libertyville ballgame was one we could have won, and we just didn't seem to have a lot of heart against Plainfield," Taylor said. "We hoped to come out fast, but the long grass, and short field really seemed to slow us up a bit, and it led to a less than sharp overall effort."
But the Lions' 3-5-2 formation and the pace of midfielders Kevin Klinkenberg, Mateo Leudo, Ryan Henry and Kevin McMahon was simply too much for the Shamrocks.
After missing several quality chances, some thanks to good work from keeper Leo Rodriguez, St. Viator began finding the range.
Klinkenberg broke through at 20 minutes, courtesy of a nice helper from Aidan Williams, and with the Lions threatening on a constant basis, Leudo struck twice in the final minutes of the first half.
After Rodriguez turned away Spencer Moore, Leudo rattled the post before watching the ball fall over the endline with Zach Gyuricza receiving credit for the assist. Two minutes later, Moore placed a perfect ball onto the head of Leudo to extend the Lions' lead to 3-0 at the break.
"We could have made things a little easier for us if we put some of those early chances away, and we had hoped we could pick up our play and start fast in the second half, but except for a few minutes here and there our play was mostly lethargic," Taylor said.
McMahon's inward swinging corner allowed Winter to freely head in the fourth goal of the day in the 44th minute. Then Moore scored, and finally sophomore Miles McDonnell put the icing on the match with his 80th-minute strike.
Tom Martin didn't need to make a save in goal during his 80 minutes, while the Lions' back line led by Ethan Wolf kept most of the play in front of them and away from Martin.