Stevenson claims third at Glenbrook South
After a long week of tournament soccer play in heat and humidity, you wouldn't expect an early morning third-place tournament matchup to have quite the excitement of a championship contest.
Yet as Stevenson and Glenbrook South met Saturday morning at John Davis Stadium in Glenview, both team played like the championship trophy was up for grabs at the 30th Titan Invite.
Stevenson recorded a straightforward and hard-fought 1-0 victory against host Glenbrook South (4-3-0) thanks to a sensational strike from Kizuki Niimi in the 67th minute to give coach Mark Schartner's Patriots (4-1-0) a third-place finish in this eight-team field.
"With three starters missing today, and after playing three games this week, there was some good stuff from the guys out there today," said Schartner, whose team next embarks on North Suburban Conference play. "It was a good possession game, with both teams trying to play soccer out there, and the effort from our guys was terrific throughout in what was a very entertaining game."
Glenbrook South coach Seong Ha saw it largely the same way.
"Nobody ever wants to play in the third-place game, especially early on Saturday after a long week," said Ha. "But I'll tell you, that was a fun high school soccer match to watch and be a part of, and it will help us get ready for two CSL games this week with Deerfield, then Glenbrook North."
Most of the first 20 minutes went box-to-box, with just a few half-chances along the way from both sides.
Pats sophomore Matt Brinkman's tackle on Johannes Aquino stopped the senior from getting in on keeper Jeremy Klaber at 21 minutes before Aquino went wide after teammate Max Klemm put him through on the right side.
Dean Lim and Dennis Katsman combined to pry open the Titans along the back, and Alex Remeniuk's well-timed tackle stopped the Pats from getting something on frame again Glenbrook South keeper Perry Adamopoulos.
"We were a little makeshift in some spots today with those three starters out, so it took us awhile to sort things out before finding some consistent play from the guys," said Schartner. "But the players off the bench did well when we brought them on, and all of them gained valuable experience here today which will go along way to helping this team when we get into our schedule in the NSC."
Just after intermission, Aquino got close off a GBS corner, and moments later, Klaber elevated to pull down another corner at the back post.
With Patriots midfielders such as Ben Brandt more engaged on both sides of the ball, forwards Dean Lim and Cooper Colvig helped apply pressure in the Titans' end, which ultimately led to the lone goal of the match.
Glenbrook South's inability to clear a Brandt corner allowed Niimi to tee up a 25-yard blast.
"Klaber was very strong for us today in goal, and again, the effort was very strong on a day when we were missing some key guys in our starting lineup," said Schartner.