Streamwood boys soccer coach Matt Polovin feels Sergio Blanco is quickly becoming one of the best goalkeepers in the area.
Blanco showed why again Monday, making a key diving save late in the first half to keep the Sabres in the lead. Streamwood increased its lead to 2-0 just 3 minutes later and went on to beat Larkin, 3-0, in Upstate Eight River action at Millennium Field.
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"It was another world-class save," Polovin said. "Right in front, easy head and found the corner. But his instincts just saved him.
"This is his first year on varsity and just getting better and better and better."
The shutout was Blanco's 11th of the season. He has the prototypical goalkeeper physical build -- tall with a big wingspan, allowing him to get to shots most goalkeepers can't get to.
The Sabres (12-2-3, 3-1-1) took the lead with 15:14 remaining in the first half as Jasminko Dizdarevic scored off a feed from Juan Munoz.
Larkin (8-6-3, 2-2-1) had its best chance with 5:45 remaining in the opening half. Griffen Perez crossed the ball from the left side. Moises Reyes was free about 6 yards out and headed the cross toward the right side of the net. Blanco dove and got a hand on the ball to protect the one-goal lead.
"It was a quick reaction," Blanco said. "I got my long arm on it to save the ball."
A little more than 3 minutes later, Christian Vences scored on a free kick from 25 yards out to increase the Sabres' advantage to 2-0. The lead became 3-0 with 31:14 remaining in the match as Vences sent a long ball to Brandon Malpartida, who beat Royals goalkeeper Javy Delgado.
"I saw the wall wasn't placed right in front of the goalie," Vences said about his free kick goal. "He was trying to place (the wall), but I didn't ask for my 10 (yards). So I took the risk and took the shot.
Delgado finished with 6 saves, including a couple at point-blank range to keep the Royals within striking distance.
Larkin did not have its full complement of players available for various reasons.
"We're just giving some guys a chance to play that haven't played all year," Royals coach Ken Hall said. "I was happy with the effort. We came out and played real tough."