Rolling Meadows' Sal D'Acquisto scored twice in the first 20 minutes to help kick-start a 2-0 victory against Lake Forest on Wednesday, helping propel the Mustangs boys soccer team to the semifinals of the Northside College Showcase.
The Mustangs (3-0-0), undefeated in pool play thus far, meet state-ranked Lyons Township today at 7 p.m. with the winner advancing to finals on Saturday against St. Charles East or New Trier at New Trier Stadium on the Northfield campus.
D'Acquisto took advantage of some shabby play in the Lake Forest (2-3-0) end to drive in his first goal at nine minutes.
David Zarate and Brett Gibson hounded the Scouts with some terrific individual play to help provide D'Acquisto with his opportunity to find the back of the net.
Enrique Avellaneda, who ventured several times forward to join the attack from his spot in the center of the Mustangs' back line, showed a strong step into the Scouts' end before connecting with Kou Glaser.
Glaser then gave Gibson his chance to fire a strike on frame.
Scouts keeper Wil Audley made the initial strong save.
But in the process, a rebound spilled off the line and directly to D'Acquisto, who drove in his fourth goal of the season.
"We did not come out very strong this afternoon, and when your having your troubles scoring thus far, conceding two early goals and falling behind usually doesn't end up favorably," said Lake Forest coach Rob Parry.
Despite the Mustangs' 2-goal advantage, their play was not much fun to watch for coach Peter Mikulak, who admitted as much following the victory.
"Our decision making wasn't very strong today, and neither was our possession, or composure on the ball," he said. "At times, we strung together four to five passes. And we looked very strong with our attack. But we had a lot of trouble sustaining that type of play. So at times we found ourselves defending much more than we would have liked."
The Mustangs' back-four players were impressive as a unit, particularly in one-vs.-one defending as well as building the attack from out of the back.
That's where Avellaneda won most of his 50-50 challenges, and the duo of Jose Cruz and Jessie Perez showed tremendous ability on the ball to help connect with their teammates in the midfield.
"Those two on the outside have a lot of confidence with their touch, and they give us that added dimension coming out of the back," Mikulak said.
After looking short of ideas during the first period, the Scouts came alive after the break.
They found and played through their talented CMF, Keegan Kullby, as well as Brian Roper and Scott Dent, who were dynamic in the opening quarter hour of the half.
"We had to soak up a lot of pressure at times in that first half, and especially at the start of the second half," Mikulak said. "And it's at those times that we really have to lean on a big group of seniors we have to help us get through those rough times."