Matt Austin opened the scoring in the annual crosstown Fremd-Palatine boys soccer contest in spectacular fashion, and his sixth-minute goal eventually decided who would take home the Kinsella Cup.
Fremd defeated host Palatine 1-0 at Chic Anderson Stadium on Tuesday night to send Austin and his mates home with the bragging rights between these longtime rivals.
"Aside from the start of the state tournament, this might be the most important game of the season for us," said Austin after he and his teammates lifted the Kinsella Cup and give the Vikings their 14th win in the series, now in its 22nd year.
The 1-goal difference is the third consecutive between team teams, two of which ended in favor of the Vikings, including last year's meeting.
"It was a good win for the boys, and one that I know is very important to them," said Fremd coach Steve Keller. "But we had to hang on in that second half, and were very fortunate to get the result we did."
The victory and the 3 points that go with it give the Vikings (5-7-0, 3-4-0) 9 points in the MSL standings, all of which have come during its recent 3-game win streak.
"It's starting to come together, but we still have a long way to go," said Keller
While the Vikings appear to be headed on the way up in the MSL West, the Pirates (7-2-0, 4-2-0) will have to get to work, as they are now chasing Barrington in the division by 6 points (at 18-12) with MSL East-leading Wheeling next up on Friday.
"We were outplayed for most of the night, and our play was ragged, especially in the midfield where No. 9 (Austin) and No. 10 (Angel Virgos) did a very good job of controlling play for their team," said Palatine coach Willie Filian. "We never really matched what they were bringing."
Austin put himself in perfect position to drive a Jake Scesniak bending corner into the back of the net.
"We haven't been down a goal since our season-opening loss to Glenbrook North, and even though we played better late in the game and hit the post, we were outplayed for all of the first half, and some of the second half -- and that's not how you win games," said Pirates keeper Ethan Bank, who made two brilliant consecutive saves on Austin in the 78th minute to give his team a chance.
The visitors were quicker to the ball, sharper in the tackle, and showed a higher work rate for the first half hour. Led by Austin and Virgos in the middle, Max Clark up top and a solid back-four, it appeared things might get out of hand if the Vikings could have put one more into the back of the net.
"We have to begin to finish the chances we create, it's just that simple," said Keller.
The best chance of this scrappy 80-minute contest for Palatine came in the 35th minute when it appeared Angel Prudente had beaten Jack Taraszka. But somehow, the Vikings keeper stretched as far as he could go to pull in the Prudente attempt from in close.
"That was a full extension save," said a pleased Clark afterward.
Later, Palatine's William Riordan broke free, and from the left side steered his shot toward the open net at the back post -- only to watch his low attempt rattle the post and spill out of the area.
Dalton Rogers made a voracious and brave tackle on Ricardo Garcia, who was put through in the 75th minute, to spoil what looked like the best chance for the Pirates to tie it up.