Persistent Leyden edges St. Charles North
Leyden belatedly found its scoring touch, coming back twice to shock St. Charles North 4-3 in nonconference boys soccer play Saturday.
Back-to-back goals from Kevin Flores drew the Eagles (6-7-1) level in the 70th minute before sophomore Albert Arabik got the game-winner on a left-footed strike from 22 yards.
"Even when we were down (3-1), I felt we could get back into the game if one of us would step up, and it was Kevin's two goals that picked all of us up," said Leyden senior Tony Guzman, who brought his club even at 1-1 just after the break to answer a Matt Picinich goal in the 25th minute. "After that, the momentum was in our favor leading up to Albert's game-winner."
The North Stars were left to figure out how victory eluded them.
"When you score 3 goals and build a 2-goal advantage, you should win the game. It's that simple," said St. Charles North coach Eric Willson. "But we defended terribly, let them back into the game and let a pretty decent effort get away from us."
The North Stars (2-7-2) dominated portions of both halfs, thanks in part to midfielders Phillip Legare and Lorenzo Estrada and forward Chris Watson, who kept the Eagles under pressure with their high work rate.
Stars keeper Billy Larsen was forced to the bench when, during a scrum in the box, the senior took a blow to his throat in the 23rd minute. His counterpart, Kevin Sabres, stepped in beautifully, making a goal-saving stop on a strike from Flores three minutes from time.
Larsen returned for the second period.
The visitors looked to be the better side right after intermission, winning nearly every 50-50 ball and second ball while not allowing the Eagles to get forward during the first five minutes of the new half.
Leyden grabbed the equalizer out of nowhere as Guzman redirected past Larsen from in close in the 46th minute.
"I still couldn't tell you if Moises (Merlos) was crossing the ball or meant to pass it to me, but I guess I was in the right place at the right time," Guzman said.
That was the end of the good news for the Eagles for a while.
Legare promptly won an important ball in the air, which Estrada collected, then quickly returned back to the North Stars captain. His angled shot from the right side went past a diving Marcin Machnik, who split time with Alfredo Recendez between the sticks for Leyden.
Some 60 seconds later, Estrada was at it again, this time serving a wonderful ball through the 6-yard box which Legare tried to hit on the way through. But when that attempt failed, there was Zach Michieli to finish and put his side ahead (3-1) in the 55th minute.
"I wasn't too sure at that point how the rest of this match would go after that great effort on their third goal — but I knew for sure if we had a chance, it was time for our senior leaders to come through for us," said Leyden coach Mark Valintis, who soon got his wish.
Flores, a senior, scored from inside the 6 at 59 minutes. About 11 minutes later, he got his second of the game, from 25 yards with a wicked left-footer.
Arabik, who scored 16 goals last season as a freshman, had been kept under wraps by St. Charles North defenders Matt Frederickson and Colin Kraft. But Arabik broke free long enough to turn and unload his 10th goal of the season past the reach of Larsen, who went airborne in his attempt to save.
"It was a good one to win, and hopefully the game that gets us going from here on out," said Valintis, whose team hosts Willowbrook on Tuesday before going on the road the next day to face Central Suburban League power New Trier.
For the North Stars, and Willson, this result was a case of deja vu all over again.
"This is kind of the way our season has gone so far," said Willson. "You saw some very good stuff out of the guys today, but we seem to find a way to do ourselves in, and this game was no different than the others."
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