Boys soccer: Reyes goal enough for Christian Liberty to top Harvest Christian
An early opener from Ryan Reyes proved all Christian Liberty Academy would need Thursday afternoon in Arlington Heights in the Chargers' 1-0 boys soccer victory over Harvest Christian.
Reyes' penalty kick conversion came in the 12th minute and the home side was sharper and slicker than the Lions (4-4-0, 2-2-0) and probably deserved to win this Northeastern Athleti Conference match by more than a single goal.
"We have the players who can possess, knock the ball around, and put a lot of pressure on our opponents which is what we did today. We just didn't finish our chances like we should have," said CLA coach Jed Bennett. "One of the great things about this team is their unselfish play. The guys play for each other, not as individuals, and it's fun to see them go out and enjoy themselves and play some real good soccer."
After Breckin Aiello was hauled down in the box, Reyes calmly steered in his spot-kick to force the visitors to chase the game the rest of the way.
"We could not connect passes today. There was a disconnect between our midfield and forwards, but a lot of that was due to the way (they) put a lot of pressure on us," admitted Lions coach, Pedro Figueiredo, who came over from nearby Judson University to take charge of the program.
"In this, our first year together, we want to put a program in place that will have long term success and we have a really good start in doing so with a nice group of players who work hard and want to get better."
The visitors had their troubles with the Chargers' (7-3-0, 2-1-0) midfield, which on this day had plenty of pace, purpose and creativity in its game.
"We were really good as a unit in the middle today. We won a lot of balls, put a lot of pressure on and created some very good chances also," said senior Haakon Fiedler, who Bennett deployed as more of a defensive midfielder on Thursday instead of his usual spot alongside the Chargers' talented central midfielder Keegan Acres.
Acres and Aiello worked extremely well in tandem, while Fielder ensured safety along the back.
Dylan Veigel's attacking angles up top led to several chances for the Chargers, most of which were handled superbly by Lions keeper Ryan Floyd.
"Ryan kept us in the game today," said Figueiredo.
Floyd was called into action all throughout the afternoon but saved his best for the second half when he stopped a 25-yard cracker from Acres, then later a point-blank missile by Acres when a Veigel early ball set him free in the 60th minute.
"Our bench is a little thin right now. We're playing with just 12 but the guys looked fresh today and with our possession style of soccer, we can stay that way for 80 minutes," said Bennett.