Boys soccer: Grayslake Central's win leaves NLCC in 3-way tie
Grayslake Central knew it had a shot at sharing the Northern Lake County Conference boys soccer title. But the Rams needed a win to do it.
Rams senior keeper Alexis Garcia-Perez, who returned from an ankle injury just a few games ago and had missed all of 2019, made a couple breakaway saves and a few more in the air out of 11 for the match providing great leadership as Grayslake Central held off visiting Round Lake 2-1 on Thursday night, leaving Grayslake Central, Lakes and Round Lake all tied with 6-1 records in the NLCC.
Garcia-Perez had fractured his ankle back in 2018 and had a chance to play in his senior season. He returned over the two previous games and had a couple of shutouts.
"It's amazing to get out here and these boys play really good," Garcia-Perez said. "I'm proud of them and they've improved a lot. I do see myself as a leader and I talk to them all the time. I try to keep them up when their heads are down. Keep them up and motivated. That's my job back there."
Grayslake Central (8-2) had a 2-0 lead until it lost one of its defenders to a red card in the 64th minute and had to play a man down the rest of the way.
"I made a lot of saves," Garcia-Perez said. "(Round Lake) was very good. My teammates were saying you saved us back there. But I think it's all them. They really did a good job back there."
The Rams got both of their goals in the first half. Cameron Paul scored off an assist from Christian Hinestrosa in the 5th minute and Alan Alonso scored off a pass from Mitchell Fein in the 35th minute.
"We're just thrilled about this. We didn't know that we would have a season and these boys have dealt with a lot," said Grayslake Central coach Tom Hamilton, who was coaching his final game. "To see where they've come from, to go out with this group means a lot to me. The character they've shown and this was what they've put together this season. They had the vision, offseason training and they organized it. They match each other on the field and pick each other up when they are down. It's an honor, to see them come together, as a genuine team this year."
Round Lake (9-4-1) got a goal back in the 73rd minute, when Rafael Milan scored off an assist from Brian Ruiz. But the Panthers couldn't find a tying goal in the final minutes.
"We were hoping to take the title outright," Round Lake coach Josue Jimenez said. "The boys played a great game. We had two bad mistakes that (Grayslake Central) took advantage of it. We did have opportunities from everywhere from different players to different sides. (The Rams) played with a man down and we created more opportunities. We were denied to get the ball (into the back of the net). Their keeper read the ball very well. Every through ball and long ball we had, our guys knew that he was a super keeper. He just read the plays and the ball very well."