Boys soccer: Prospect shocks Hersey, claims first Cardinal Cup
Prospect stunned Hersey with two late goals to win 2-1 Thursday night at Roland Goins Stadium to lift itself back into the race for the top spot in the Mid-Suburban East boys soccer race.
The Huskies (7-4-1, 7-2-0), who two days ago beat-then division leading Rolling Meadows in dramatic fashion in overtime, led this contest through an Andrew Hamilton goal six minutes after the break, but the contest turned in the Knights' favor just when it looked like the visitors were in deep trouble.
"We played such a strong first half but Hersey came out strong after the break to capitalize on their chance and although we looked to be running out of time, the effort and energy the guys put forth to get back into this game is something that I am very proud of," said Knights (9-4-2, 5-2-2) head coach Mike Andrews.
The 3 points earned by Andrews' team draws the Knights closer to the front of the division, which is now led once again by Rolling Meadows, whose 3-1 win over Schaumburg gives it 20 points, followed by Hersey (18) then Prospect with 17.
"We all knew a loss or draw would end our chances, so even though we fell behind early in the second half all of us turned this game around by not giving up," offered Knights senior Ryan Novak, whom Andrews moved from his center-back spot just after the Huskies' opener in the 46th minute up top, where he would eventually bag the equalizer in the 68th minute.
The home side came out of the intermission on its collective front foot, and soon would strike first off a free kick initiated by a ball sent into the box from Alex Ganekov, which spilled back toward an opportunistic Hamilton, whose superb one-timer nestled into the back of the net from in close.
The Huskies would create a handful of quality chances to double their advantage and if not for Knights keeper Alejandro Rider-Leiner, the home side likely would have put the game out of reach.
Rider-Leiner's best save was on a point-blank effort from Steven Lopez in the 58th minute.
Novak fired in his angled strike to level things in the 68th minute when he was left alone long enough to tee-up his 25-yard blast. Then, two minutes later, Lopez steered in the winner after Novak and Massimo Mho helped set up their teammate.
"It obviously is a tough, and disappointing loss for us, but you learn playing in the MSL that every night you have to expect this type of competitive game, and that it's important to play to the final whistle. Credit Prospect, because that's exactly what they did tonight," admitted Huskies head coach Mike Rusniak, whose club is away at Glenbrook South this Saturday before finishing up the regular season next week against Schaumburg, Fremd, then Buffalo Grove.
The Knights, who have Hoffman Estates and Schaumburg remaining, also would carry away the first Cardinal Cup with the triumph.
The brainchild of Rusniak, the Cardinal Cup is a traveling trophy competed for by Hersey, Prospect and Rolling Meadows, and named after Arlington High School, which closed its doors in 1984 and fed students from its boundaries to the three schools.
The Knights' win Thursday, and draw with Rolling Meadows, gave them 4 points and enough to take the inaugural Cardinal Cup home with them for a year.