Boys soccer: Perez goal puts Buffalo Grove by Hersey
Brian Perez's penalty kick conversion in the 21st minute would be the dramatic game-winner to give Buffalo Grove (9-1-0-27 points) an important 1-0 Mid-Suburban East victory Saturday afternoon in the rain over Hersey at Roland Goins Stadium in Arlington Heights.
The win puts the Bison 3 points clear of Hersey and Rolling Meadows with one game remaining in the regular season.
"It was a very good win for us, but we still have to win at Rolling Meadows," said Bison head coach Darren Llewellyn.
"Last year it came down to the last game and we lost to Wheeling which sent them into the (MSL) Soccer Cup -- so you know our focus will be strong when we play a very good opponent in Rolling Meadows."
The Huskies (8-2-0-24), who have been atop the MSL East throughout the season found themselves back in a fight for the division following a recent loss to Fremd.
"I have the utmost respect for Darren, who was my mentor when he was here, and so do the players who played for him when they were freshmen so we all knew he would have his guys ready for us," said Huskies head coach Mike Rusniak.
"They're a very good team, so when your chasing the lead against a Darren Llewellyn team, you know your going to have to be at your best in order to get back in the game."
Both sides were off an running seconds after the opening whistle with the speed and pace of the game played with high energy, and the type of urgency expected in a game of such importance.
Perez was put through by Gio Trujano in the 20th minute and on a late call from the assistant referee, who detected Perez was hauled down in the box, the Bison's leading scorer went to the spot.
"I felt like it was a good call," said Perez, who converted with after a brilliant double save by Huskies keeper Reese Delahanty, who had no chance on the third effort from Perez, who followed up on the ball which spilled freely to give the visitors a 1-0 advantage.
With one of the top forwards in the league, Patryk Bujak, out of action, Rusniak would deploy his all-state midfielder, Ronan Wilcox, up top all throughout the contest.
"No. 10 (Wilcox) is such a good player, so I tried to defend him one-on-one, with Shant (Demirjian) in front of him/me, and Danny (Alfaro) in back of me to give me support," said sophomore Mario Torres, who did an admirable job on the ultra-talented Wilcox.
Sam Schuffler would go wide at the half-hour as the home side began to find itself later in the half but it was the first of two remarkable point-blank stops from Bison keeper Charlie Mancilla on Wilcox that would save the day.
"We had a lot of guys who played about as well as they could but Charlie came up huge for us today," beamed Llewellyn.
Perez nearly doubled the Bison advantage just moments after the intermission when he collected a Patryk Korzakowski helper, if not for another marvelous save from Delahanty.
With the Huskies throwing more numbers forward as they went in search of the equalizer, Mancilla somehow kept the ball from going over the end line on a wicked attempt from Simon Hemenway, then watched a close-range attempt from Wilcox go just wide of an open net at the back post.
"I was very proud of our effort today, especially after we went down early on that PK, which lesser teams would just hang their heads," said Rusniak. "Although we had most of the play in that second half, their keeper kept them in the game for with a couple of amazing saves to keep us out of the back of the net."