Boys soccer: Keepers stand out as Prospect, Elk Grove play to a scoreless draw
Fremd and Barrington may be the class of the Mid-Suburban League this fall, but the MSL East continues to prove it's a deep, and talented boys soccer group.
Elk Grove and Prospect played an entertaining 100 minutes of soccer Tuesday night in Mount Prospect at George Gattas Memorial Stadium, ending in a 0-0 draw thanks in part to some terrific play between the sticks from both keepers.
Senior Alejandro Rider-Leiner took four out of the back of the net for the Knights, while Elk Grove's Hans Espinoza nearly matched his counterpart as each starred in the hard-fought contest on an important night of play in the division.
With the 1 point earned with the draw, the Knights (8-3-2, 4-2-2) now have 14 overall points, and are chasing Hersey, which dealt Rolling Meadows its first loss on the season.
The Huskies' 2-1 win in overtime places them atop the division with 18 points, 1 point clear of Rolling Meadows.
"Tonight was a terrific game and a fair result in the end and it shows just how highly competitive our division has become this season," said Knights coach Mike Andrews, whose club will play Hersey on Thursday night.
"It was a great game," said Grens coach Alex Stavropoulos. "Both teams created great chances, with each keeper making amazing saves to help their team out and for us, this was a great test in a high-pressure game that all of us know will help us get ready for the postseason."
Heading into action the Grens, 3-3-2 in the league, had the most wins 10 to date than any other club in the MSL.
"We had a little bit of a rough star, losing our first two conference games, but we've slowly come around to be a good team, and one that can only be better this year, and next especially with us having nine sophomores on our varsity roster," added Stavropoulos.
The Knights were on their collective front foot during the first quarter hour, with the trio of Steven Lopez, Shea Morris, and Owen Walsh having far too much pace and purpose for the Grens to keep under wraps.
However, the visitors began to come into the game when they started to run more freely into the channels, showing more invention in their game.
During the frantic final moments of the first half, Espinoza made a superb save on Lopez only to watch the ball spill freely away from him before teammate Brian Garcia took the ball off the line.
Moments later on the other end, Angel Aparicio had Rider-Leiner all to himself but sent his close range effort just over the bar.
Rider-Leiner came to the rescue for the Knights when he stopped Aaron Vazquez's point-blank attempt then Jared Aguirre's 30-yard blast.
A last-ditch effort to win in regulation by Patrick Mikina was pushed up and over the bar by Rider-Leiner to send the game into overtime.
Once there, the Knights enjoyed most of the play in the first ten-minute session, with the Grens a little bit better in the second extra period before the final whistle.
"We made some adjustments at the half, and did much better building our attack and creating chances, we just didn't finish the job in the final third," said Stavropouls.
The Grens (10-4-1) host Hoffman Estates on Thursday, while the Knights are away at Hersey.
"We moved our top scorer, Ryan Novak, in as our center back tonight, and he did a terrific job back there, as did the rest of our back line. I have no complaints about our effort, and with how hard we fought, it was just a good game from both teams, and that's why it ended in the 0-0 draw," said Andrews.