The offense for the Huntley boys soccer team gets a lot of attention.
Not surprising, as the Red Raiders average 3.5 goals per game. But the defense has been just as good this season.
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Huntley earned its 12th shutout of the season Thursday night as the Red Raiders beat Cary-Grove, 3-0, at Al Bohrer Field. The match was called with 4:49 remaining after a 35-minute lightning delay.
"We're good at communicating in the back," Huntley senior defender Jakub Rys said. "We know how each other plays. It's not just the back three, it's also the defensive mids. They're a big part of it too."
The Red Raiders, who started Rys, Angel Sanchez and Maneul Menjivar across the back line Thursday, have given up just 8 goals in 17 games.
The Trojans (10-5, 2-2 FVC Valley) had just 1 shot on goal and the rest of their chances came from outside of the Red Raiders' penalty area that were little threat to Huntley goalkeeper Austen Emery.
"The shape (of the defense) has been really good. They all three win balls in the air really well," Red Raiders coach Kris Grabner said of the back line. "I think having Reyman (Solis) in front of them helps a lot too. He is winning a lot of 50/50 balls and he tackles like a beast."
Huntley (15-1-1, 3-0) got all the offense it would need on a Niko Mihalopoulos goal with 23:35 remaining in the first half. The Red Raiders worked the ball around well around the top of the Trojans' penalty area. As touch got away from the Red Raiders, a Cary-Grove defender and Mihalopoulos got to the ball about the same time. The ball deflected off Mihalopoulos and past Trojans goalkeeper Ethan Csoka for 1-0 Huntley lead.
"After their ricocheted goal, it definitely got Huntley's confidence even more and they didn't need much more confidence to begin with," Cary-Grove coach Mark Olson said. "We'll take some of the lessons from this game here and move on."
Mihalopoulos increased the lead to 2-0 off a feed from Solis with 8:51 to go in the first half.
Rys capped the scoring with 24:45 remaining in the match. He joined the attack for a Solis free kick. Mihalopoulos headed the ball high into the air. Rys was about 6 yards out and heading the ball into the far corner of the net.
"The free kick was played right into Niko and he flicked it up with his head. It came straight up to me," Rys said. "I decided to jump and hit it as hard as I can, keep it low. Luckily it got there."