Boys soccer: Herrera's strikes lead York past Leyden
York opened with a breathtaking first period of attacking soccer while sophomore Jose Herrera bagged goals in both halves to help lead the Dukes (5-3-1) to an impressive 2-1 victory Tuesday night in Elmhurst over visiting Leyden in a West Suburban Conference boys soccer crossover game.
"Our first half was not very good and although we played much better in the second half (York) was better than we were and deserved the victory," said Leyden coach Mark Valintis, who will now get his team ready for its biggest test of the season when it plays state power Morton on Thursday for the WSC Gold crown.
"This was a very good win for us tonight against a team that plays a very attractive style of soccer, which I thought we did a good job of keeping them under control for most of the night," said York head coach Jordan Stopka.
It was an ominous start for the home side, which squandered a trio of chances in the first quarter hour, the best perhaps coming in the 8th minute when Yael Silvestre broke free and in on Leyden (7-3-0) keeper Isael Marin, who bravely turned away the point-blank attempt.
Silvestre, Herrera and Erik Barishman were a constant thorn for the Eagles all throughout the first half with their pressure applied up top and hard running at Leyden back line, which defended far more than it would have liked.
"We came out and wanted to keep the pressure on them and with our midfield taking control, we were able to keep them from getting out of their own end and allow us to attack," said Herrera.
Herrera's opener came when he ran onto a superb cross from the left foot of teammate Ryan Woolfe, whose inch-perfect helper allowed Herrera to one-time his effort into the back of the net on the end of his run into the box at 17 minutes.
Marin and his counterpart on the other end of the park, Ricardo Torres, would each keep their side clean from there on out with both keepers not only making important saves but also taking command of their box when called upon.
The Dukes would double their advantage in the 47th minute when Chase McNeill collected the ball on the left side, burst free of a pair of Eagles, then curled a brilliant ball up to the ever present Herrera, who went up and over Marin as Marin came off his line to challenge and cut the angle on the speedy Herrera.
Although chasing two goals, the Eagles would not go away as they went in search of pulling one back to make a game of it.
Pablo Mancha, Alan Jacinto, Alan Vazquez and Javier Solis would find their way through and into the final third with more regularity, but with the Dukes back line of Connor Bare, Anthony Flores, Arlind Methoxha and Timur Turkoglu holding firm, the Eagles were only able to convert a PK from Mancha three minutes from time
"Our defense did the job tonight, plus Jose scored two great goals for us, so we look to carry this effort into next game when we play Addison Trail," said Stopka.