Buffalo Grove captain Zach Masciopinto fired in the decisive goal early, converting a PK at 16 minutes to provide coach Rick Carlson's team with a 1-0 victory over Elk Grove on Thursday night at Grant Blaney Stadium.
That give the Bison (2-0-0, 1-0-0) a quick 3 points in its Mid-Suburban League opener, while Elk Grove (0-1-1, 0-1-0) is still in pursuit of its first win.
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The Grens endured a torrid start from BG, soaking tons of pressure in the opening quarter-hour before conceding the Masciopinto game-winner.
"It was a terrific, strong start from our guys, but with that said, we didn't finish a few other opportunities, which in this conference is something you'd better do if you hope to be one of the top sides at the end of the season," said Carlson. "I thought we did a good job of managing the lead, then closing it out. But you could see, a team like Elk Grove with so many young players still fought hard right until the end. We have to be ready for that every night in this conference."
Masciopinto nearly stunned the Grens in the opening minute when Hans Haller, a threat all night long with his long throws, unloaded his first of many to the head of his teammate. If not for an alert Alberto Centeno, who went airborne and stayed there long enough to push Masciopinto's header around the post, the Bison probably would have scored in the first minute.
"(Their) keeper had a very strong effort all throughout this game, probably making 4-5 quality saves to help keep them close," said Carlson.
Masciopinto was hauled down inside the box after running onto a wonderful serve from Connor Reid. The PK past Centeno finish off some highly entertaining, energized play from the Bison midfield which included Haller, Hector Herrera, Alex Alfaro along with Christian Miguel as striker Collin Doyle made his mark up top.
"We really struggled in that first half, and were slow to react to the speed of play, which for us, was the first time on turf after training on the natural grass at our place," said Elk Grove coach Rob Sheperd. "Credit BG for their first-half play, but after making a few adjustments at the break, I thought we came out and played some very good soccer in the second half -- especially in the midfield, where we finally connected some passes, had good spacing and movement during most of that half."
A light drizzle greeted both clubs after intermission, and it grew into a steady rain midway through the second period.
The Grens' adjustments at the break saw an immediate impact, and now with its technical duo of Edgar Soto and Carlos Miranda getting more touches, the visitors' attack became filled with more promise and pace going forward.
Miranda brought a save out of freshman keeper Daniel Sempoch at 46 minutes after teammate Connor May enjoyed a fairly easy time of it in the first half. Four minutes later, Soto had a go on frame, driving his low, well-aimed right footed strike directly at Sempoch.
This sequence signaled a solid 15 minutes of up-and-down play as the urgency to score another from Buffalo Grove, and the desire to draw even from the Grens, inspired both clubs.
"It was good to see us get back into the game and play with a lot of pace and desire in that second half, plus it was good to see the guys bounce back from being under so much pressure in that first half from Buffalo Grove," said Sheperd.
Alfaro rattled the bar in the 63rd minute after Alexis Alvarez and Masciopinto created the opportunity for the sophomore. But that was it for quality chances for either side, with the Bison back line led by Ryan Drum, Mike Kotlyar, Brendan Carr and Reid tightening things up.
"It was a good start for the season, but next week, we'll see some quality teams at the New Trier Invite, so we'll see what we're made of," cautioned Carlson.
The Bison open tourney play on Labor Day against the host Trevians, while Elk Grove welcomes Minnesota-state power Totino-Grace on Saturday morning.