Three quick goals doom Cougars in opener
By Steve Millar
The first 17 minutes of the season could not have gone much worse for Plainfield South.
The Cougars saw Lincoln-Way Central score three early goals Monday enroute to handing them a 3-0 season-opening loss in Plainfield.
“It was the first game for both teams,” South coach Dave Brown said. “Monday afternoons can be a little odd with it being the start of the school week and all. We didn’t start with the energy we wanted.”
After the rough start, the Cougars showed plenty of promise. They outshot the Knights 14-6 overall and put six shots on goal, but were denied by Central goalie J.T. Schmitt each time.
“I like the team’s spirit fighting back,” Brown said. “I think we outshot them, we hit a few posts here and there.
“The only thing I’m disappointed about is that we didn’t score. I would have liked to have gotten one just to be able to say we’ve scored and to get that pressure off. “
The Cougars had a good chance in the opening minute when Adam Burt picked off a clearing attempt in the Central box and fired a shot, but Schmitt was up to the challenge.
The Knights broke through two minutes later off a deep throw-in as Cole Senesac won the ball in the air and headed it to Tyler Massa, who scored on a laser from the top of the box.
Central took advantage of a free kick from just outside the box as Jacob Lysik sent a shot just inside the left post for a 2-0 lead with 24:38 left in the half.
“We took some bad fouls and we weren’t locking down defensively as hard as we normally do,” Brown said. “We paid for that right away.”
Senesac drove down the middle of the box and slipped a pass to Matt Crnich streaking down the right side. Crnich finished and the Knights were in total command with a 3-0 lead in the 18th minute.
“We came into the game with the right mindset and we came out hot,” Massa said. “I think if we can keep playing at this high of a level, we can have a great season.”
The Cougars had plenty of second-half chances.
The best came seven minutes in as Parker Gallt got a good look in the box, but Schmitt got enough of the shot to deflect it off the post and out.
Schmitt had another gem later in the half, again robbing Gallt as he leaped and punched the shot off the crossbar and out.
In between, Schmitt made two more saves and South, which spent almost the entire second half on the attack, fired a series of shots off-target.
“Sometimes things have to bounce your way,” Central coach Sean Fahey said. “We know Plainfield South is going to have a very good season. We got what we needed which was some people who are new to varsity really stepping up.”
For Brown, it’s far from time to hit the panic button.
“I thought overall it was a very even game in terms of the talent of both teams and the competitive spirit of both teams,” he said.
“The one thing Lincoln-Way did better than us was put their chances away. We gave them three clear-cut chances and they finished all of them."
The Cougar coach, who was an All-State performer for the Knights, doesn't worry much about the first-game outcome.
“It’s a long season and we’re going to be OK. We lost the first game last year and went on to be a number one regional seed," Brown said.
“It just comes down to us all getting on the same page and finding out what is going to be our go-to asset this year and just working our tails off all season.”
The Cougars will host Naperville Central on Wednesday.
“Hopefully we can see where we are against one of the best teams in the state,” Brown said. “We expect to be very competitive going forward. We’ve been knocking on the door for a conference title. We’re here to compete with anyone.”