Boys soccer: Elk Grove trips up WW South

By Mike Garofola
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 10/13/2018 9:58 PM

Elk Grove has suffered a dark period when the boys soccer postseason has come around during the last six years but the Grens may be emerging again in the light.

A Class 3A Hoffman Estates regional semifinal against No. 3 seed York (13-5-1) awaits coach Alex Stavropoulos' club on Tuesday after its 1-0 victory over visiting Wheaton Warrenville South Saturday night at Robert Haskell Stadium in Elk Grove.

"One of several goals we set when I took over the program last year was to end a streak of first-round losses in the state series and tonight we finally did," said Stavropoulos long after his team celebrated Luis Godines' decisive goal in the 64th minute to end the season for the 19th-seeded Tigers.

"Elk Grove is a very good club, and they showed how good they were technically by having nearly 25 minutes of the possession in the first half and by putting us under pressure with their attack," said Tigers coach Guy Callipari, after spending a considerable amount of time afterward with his seniors, including Jordy Morales and Declin Ermer, both of whom played well during their final time wearing the orange and white shirt.

"It's never been about effort with this team -- a team that has so many good, young players, who I believe will be very good players here for the next two-three years," said Morales.

"I thought we were in the game all throughout. Their goal was a bit lucky when it came off the post and right to No. 2 (Godines) but we played hard right until the end, but it wasn't enough," added Ermer.

The home side went immediately onto its front foot -- playing quick, fast possession soccer -- with most of it going through Brandon Lazcano-Llanos, Nazar Peron, Hector Torres and Godines, who kept the Tigers under pressure for most of the first half.

"The only thing we didn't do was score in the first half, but we came out strong, and never really let up (right) up until the first goal and after, until they got a lot of numbers forward late in the game," said Godines.

The junior was in the right place at the right time to steer in the eventual game-winner that was initiated by a terrific inward swinging corner from Diego Negrete Meza that rattled off the back post and right to the opportunistic Godines.

Callipari would bring Ermer forward from his spot in the center of the Tigers' back line to become the target man for the final 10 minutes of regulation, and along with Sumani Husseini and Sean Tully, the trio created trouble as South (5-10-2) went in search of the equalizer.

A nifty heel flick by Husseini of a long free kick from the midline by Nick McGrath forced Grens keeper Sean Martinez into action but on the play, Husseini was injured, and would not be back in action for the final five minutes.

The Tigers would send several balls into the mix with the hope of earning a corner kick, deflection or even a PK, but the Grens' center-back duo of Paul Jonas and Alex Pillath, praised afterward for their work by Stavropoulos, defended the area in and around Martinez, and keep the score line in their favor.

"It was a hard-fought game, but the better team won tonight," admitted Callipari.

"This is a terrific win for our program, and one that I am very proud of because of the heart and effort all of the guys put forth tonight," Stavropoulos said.

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