Boys soccer: Palatine, Conant play to a scoreless draw
One-hundred minutes of soccer could not decide the Palatine-Conant contest Tuesday night in Hoffman Estates.
The two MSL West rivals were each resolute with their defensive play, while both keepers came to the rescue when needed during a 0-0 draw at Charles Feutz Field.
"This is kind of the way our season has gone thus far," lamented Palatine head coach Willie Filian, whose club has been goal-less in its last three games, and now stands 2-3-4 overall, and 1-1-2 in league play.
"We haven't really generated much with our offense of late, and the one or two really good chances we created tonight we just couldn't finish."
Both Piotr Pyz from Conant and his counterpart between the sticks, DJ Gutierrez, would play a big role in the eventual outcome -- Pyz with a magnificent first period save and Gutierrez twice in the second half.
"In a game like this, sometimes it's the goalkeepers who will help decide how it ends," said Pyz, who became the Cougars (1-6-2, 0-2-2) starter after moving to the states from Poland to begin his sophomore season.
"We're young and inexperienced after losing so many starters from last year's team but with each game, we've gotten a little bit better."
"It was nice to see us play good team defense after conceding an average of close to four goals a game thus far," said Conant head coach Jason Franco, after his team recorded its first shutout of the year.
"It wasn't always the prettiest game to watch, but both teams played hard, and I know for us, the effort was good -- especially along the back." The one constant from both sides was from the central defenders -- Kevin Reynolds and Aaron Spaletto from Palatine and the Conant duo of Maciej Matusiak and Dan Takemoto.
The ebb and flow of this game, came and went away for long stretches, with each side betrayed by its touch in the final third, or by playing far too many balls in the air, which, at times, produced little flow of play.
"Palatine did well to get us to play the way they wanted to, especially in the first half when it took us a while to get anything going in the run of play," admitted Franco.
Pyz would save the day for the home side in the 34th minute after Aaron Bustamante flicked a ball forward into the box where Wiktor Pajak unleashed a point-blank attempt.
A last-second reaction save -- made with his left glove -- turned away the sure goal.
Prior to this superb effort from Pyz, the Cougars' captain came off his line fearlessly to punch a dangerous free kick from Connor Aiklan out of the area.
The first half for Gutierrez was relatively quiet, but the senior was busier than he would have liked to be after the break.
That's when the Cougars, whose attack ramped up just after the start of the second period, put the Pirates under constant pressure.
Gutierrez made a sensational save on a left-footed blast by Mauricio Flores then stayed composed when Eduardo Dorado lashed a low blast which required steady hands in order to keep the home side off the scoreboard.
Neither side was able to breach the defense of the other during the two 10-minute extra sessions to bring this divisional contest to a close.
Conant is on the road at Hersey on Thursday, while the Pirates host MSL East leading Buffalo Grove on the same evening.