A little bit of magic in the shooting boots of Dan Norton proved the difference and spoiled the day for tourney host Lake Park, which fell 1-0 on Thursday to Norton and his Wheaton North mates at the Norm Hillner Classic at the Lancers' West Campus Stadium.
Tim McEvilly's charges arrived for its fourth game in the tourney with a record of 1-1-1 after falling 3-1 to Conant on Tuesday. They hoped to stay in the running with a victory over the Lancers, which stood 2-1-1 prior to this match.
The home side appeared in the mood to rack up goals when it dominated the early exchanges. The Lancers were helped in part by a strong wind at their back, some lovely pace up top from Oliver Horgan, and the Falcons' inability to stay organized and possess during the opening 10 minutes.
"We didn't deal well with the wind in those first 10 minutes, but once we did, we began to find feet and get a handle on the game, and, for the most part, have most of the run of play," McEvilly said.
On the other side of the ball, Lake Park coach Anthony Passi had trouble watching what his club was up to after its solid start, which fell of dramatically.
"I would be hard-pressed to find a lot of positive things to say about the way we played today," Passi said.
"We're obviously a way different team than the one which went to the state tournament last season, (and) I know it will take some time for us to find our identity. But there wasn't much creative work at all out there today, very little energy, practically no possession, and plenty of other things we talked to the guys about after the game."
The Falcons trio of Aaron Deeke, Kenny Stang and Norton did well to clog the center of the park, thus slowing the Lancers attack to a crawl. It was this group, along with Zach Oslund and Ephraim Bugumba, who brought plenty of lively play to the Falcons attack.
Bugumba nearly slotted past goalkeeper Paul Marcinowski after a long throw from Kyle Nelson found its way near the spot. Moments later, if Jason Szumski could have provided a little more pace on his shot in close after an Oslund throw spilled free, the visitors might have found the back of the net.
The pressure was finally released when Jack Williams worked himself free on the outside before putting Norton through with a brilliant ball that allowed the senior to drive his attempt perfectly past Marcinowski in the 36th minute.
"Norton was very composed in that situation, but it was Jack, who is one of our supersubs, who came out and gave us what we ask those guys who come the bench to do -- and that's to make a difference -- and he did just that," McEvilly said.
The question for Passi and his club was could they find the equalizer after the break?
Horgan headed over the bar a well-driven serve from Kris Lopez in the 51st minute. Later at 73 minutes, the pair combined once again, this time with a more dangerous chance from in close, with Horgan going over once more.
"We didn't really get anything going until the very end, and that's kind of how this game went," Passi said.
"Hopefully we get a real stinker out of the way now. Learn from it, and get ourselves right for the DVC and our game at Toyota Park next Sunday."
Norton was pleased with his teammates' effort in the victory, especially after its so-so start.
"It wasn't very good in the beginning, but we began to win the 50-50s in the middle, which helped our attack to finally get going."
The Falcons finish up tournament play with York Saturday morning.