Boys soccer: St. Charles East avenges loss to St. Charles North
Every time St. Charles East junior midfielder Joshua Ruiz gets the ball, his coaches think something positive is about to happen.
"His ability to play off the forward has just been good. His camaraderie and his link-up play with Sebastian [Carranza] ... those three in the middle: Josh, Luka [Avendano] and Alex [Mancera] play very well together and move the ball quickly," St. Charles East coach Vince DiNuzzo said after the Saints' 4-1 victory over St. Charles North on Thursday.
"[Ruiz's] ability to link-up with Sebastian and be dangerous in the attacking [half], every time he gets the ball, we're like 'Ah, something is going to happen' so it's that feeling we get," DiNuzzo continued. "His confidence is only growing and he's only a junior, so it's nice."
Carranza got the Saints rolling 1-0 with a score with 29:45 left in the first half Thursday, but North Stars senior Luke Persenico scored to tie it. About one minute later, Carranza tapped in his second goal of the contest after an initial rush was denied by North Stars sophomore goalkeeper Josh Springer.
The Saints took the 2-1 advantage into the half and kept the pressure on. Saints forward Jacob Maslowski connected with Ruiz, who headed in the pass, for the 3-1 lead with 31:20 left in the second half.
"During halftime, DiNuzzo was saying get players in the box," said Ruiz, who has four goals on the season. "Make sure all these midfielders get in the box to have a chance to score. And, I think our midfielders, especially myself, did a good job of doing that. That's exactly what happened on the goal."
Maslowski later connected on his own scoring chance for the insurance goal.
The Saints (11-2-2, 8-2-2) lost the first matchup of the season against North on March 23, but the mistakes made on their back line were far fewer this time around. East has not lost a match since.
"I think we did a much better job of finishing our chances. We played much better [than last time]," DiNuzzo said. "Other than one mental lapse in the back, we were pretty sound back there. We played a little looser when we got up three goals, but I thought the boys played well."
The North Stars (7-3-1, 6-2-1) had limited offensive chances for much of the second half. Sam Strader nearly converted on a free kick opportunity with 18 minutes to go, but it went wide. Collin Michels also had a favorable look, but Saints goalkeeper Jacob Boecher turned it away.
Boecher finished with five saves.
"It was a tough night for us [offensively]," North Stars coach Eric Willson said. "It was a proper beating that we took. We just couldn't get moving. We couldn't get things flowing like we're used to doing. To be perfectly honest, it's tough to play at our place, we showed them that. It's tough to play here. This is a [St. Charles East] team that's on fire right now and playing good soccer and we ran into it today."