Boys soccer: Weather gets best of Benet, Libertyville
Benet Academy was as dangerous as the weather in and around the Walter A. Johnson Sports Complex in Libertyville on Saturday.
In fact, the storms were the only thing that would stop the Redwings (7-1-0) soccer club, which outplayed the Class 3A state power for nearly 40 full minutes until officials deemed approaching conditions would be far too risky to play in.
Goals from TJ McVey and Sam Hepburn, plus a sparkling overall performance had coach Sean Wesley's men in control at 2-0, until the final weather stoppage ended the nonconference game just 28 seconds before intermission.
"Although we needed to get to the half, I feel as if this was a win-win all the way around (despite) having us fall just short of officially doing so," Wesley said after his club and the home side Wildcats (9-0-0) were unable to finish things off.
"We were not at our best against defending state champion (Naperville North) two weeks ago, so we were looking forward to playing the next best team today to see how we've progressed since that 2-1 loss to Naperville," Wesley continued.
"We came out with a lot of purpose, heart and desire, and it showed in the way we attacked, defended, and slowed a really great team down," said Benet junior Anthony Klos, who, along with his back line mates Zach Serafin, Carl Widmann and Thomas Miskin were watertight on a rainy afternoon.
"(Benet) had a lot more energy than we did from the opening whistle," Libertyville coach Kevin Thunholm said. "We never could get anything going (until) the first time the ThorGuard went off, giving us a chance to relax and gather ourselves, while hopefully slowing down a very talented Benet team at the same time.
"It's been a busy week of sorts for us with two games, the guys riding in the homecoming parade this morning (the dance) tonight," Thunholm added. "But that's not an excuse either, nor to downplay how Benet played. They were just better than us today."
Benet had to know a goal was coming after creating a handful of chances and had a golden opportunity stopped cold by Wildcats keeper Hunter Lynch on a blast from Hepburn.
Freshman Nico Picha pried open the Wildcats in the back with a delightful ball to McVey, who ran onto it, then finished with a cool touch, as Lynch was forced to come off his line to challenge.
Hunter's counterpart, Vytautas Staniskis, went airborne to pull a deep throw from Patrick Graham with Graham's teammates Jack Brennan and Will Herbeck just inside the spot.
The first delay lasted close to 40 minutes, and when play resumed, the homeside looked much sharper than it had until play stopped in the 24th minute.
It would not last long, however.
Hans Haenicke carried to the end line, then whipped a well-paced ball toward the near post, where Hepburn buried his one-timer to increase the Redwings' advantage at 30 minutes.
"Two great goals from TJ and Sam, and perhaps our best half of soccer of the season against a great opponent," Wesley said. "(It) was a very good day for us."
Benet blocked a pair of shots from just near the edge after a Landon Johnson corner. Nick Renfro cleared the area with a strong effort.
"We were lucky not to have been tagged with a loss today," Thunholm said. "But I know for a fact this was the type of wake-up call the team needed to remind them of (the) effort they need to bring each time out."