Boys soccer: Lake Park prevails vs. Bartlett
In the first two minutes of Wednesday's Class 3A West Chicago regional semifinal against Bartlett, Lake Park had a pair of shots strike each of the posts.
Then, midway through the first half, the Lancers had a shot carom off the crossbar.
The back of the net seemingly was mocking them until Franco Presta scored with 10:05 remaining in the first half, and it proved to be all the Lancers needed in a hard-fought, 1-0 nail-biter.
"It doesn't matter what seed you are in these games," Presta said. "You've got to be aggressive and move the ball around and I think that's what we did. We only had one goal but we created a lot of chances. Next time we have to finish more."
Lake Park (11-6-4) proved unlucky with its set pieces early on, literally missing a few goals by inches, but they didn't miss when Presta redirected a pass from Gabe Mendrano.
"It all started once we got the free kick after a nice through ball and a foul," Presta said. "I got that cross coming in and all I had to do was be in the right place and redirect it and it went in."
The Lancers have several players that can deliver on offense. In addition to the Mendrano an Presto combo, Victor Pawlik, Andrew Eliopoulos, Matteo Costa, Sebastian Glodz and Chris Nasiadka all had near misses.
"We just have to put teams way, never give up and always push the pedal," Presta said. "You can't have any mercy on these teams. You just have to shut them out like we did in the first and second half and give them no hope, but you want to score more than one."
Bartlett (5-14-4) may have been hoping for the upset, but the Hawks couldn't muster much offensively as the Lancers controlled possession and only allowed the ball to get near its back line and goalkeeper on a handful of occasions.
"It was high press and we've played that way for a while now," Lancers coach Sean Crosby said. "Our midfield unit and back line worked together in good unison. So it's great to see a shutout. We hadn't had one in a couple of games with a stiff end of the season so it's good to get back to it and commit to the high press."
The Lancers certainly didn't take the Hawks for granted. While Bartlett has struggled, they hadn't been shut out in their past nine games coming in.
"We knew this was going to be a hard team to beat," Costa said. "We had to be physical and to play our hardest because if we didn't, we'd be going home."
Tyler Serpico and Anthony Garcia took shots late in the second half for the Hawks as they switched to a 3-3-4 to try to net the equalizer and extend the game.
"Lake Park had opportunities so we were fortunate it was still 1-0 and very reachable," Hawks coach Victor Marquez said. "I think that's what it's about at the end of the day. Those differences with records and rankings were narrowed based on our performance so in that regard I really can't ask for anything more from our guys."