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Coach: Steve Keller
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Joe Klen, Luke Mangognia, Chad Jonas
Ken Goettsche
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Gavin McCarty Jr., M
Dave Blanchette Sr., M/D
Keigo Oharu Sr., M
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Robbie Ng Sr., M
Nathan Dolan Sr., M/D
Luke Kosacz Jr., D/M
Brock Von Holt Sr., F/M
Tomas Peleckas Jr., D
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Rentaro Shimuzo Fr.
Luke Schoffstall Fr.

Photos courtesy of Mark Bratkiv

Vikings fall on PKs to Waubonsie Valley


By Matt Le Cren

Fremd was clinging to a 1-0 lead but Waubonsie Valley was knocking on the door as the minutes melted away Thursday night at the Best of the West Tournament.

The Vikings appeared headed for victory until Casey Bucz stuck his foot out and forced the game into a shootout when he scored the game-tying goal with 21 seconds remaining in regulation.

Waubonsie Valley took full advantage of the late reprieve, winning the ensuing seven-round shootout 6-5 to prevail 2-1 at Memorial Stadium in Naperville.

The result prevented Naperville Central, which beat Sandburg 2-0, from clinching the pool title and a spot in Saturday’s 6 p.m. tournament championship match. Instead, the winner of Saturday morning’s game between Naperville Central and Waubonsie Valley will decide who plays for the title.

“This was a really big win,” said Bucz, a senior forward. “We felt we didn’t play very well against Sandburg on Tuesday [a 1-0 loss] and so we wanted to come out here and show that we were a better team than that. First half we didn’t really do that but second half I really felt like we showed resiliency.”

Fremd (1-2-1) was clearly the better side in the first half and took a 1-0 lead into the break thanks to Brock Von Holt's counterattack goal in the 18th minute, off a feed from Austin Bratkiv.

But the Warriors served notice that the second half would be a different story when Bucz sent a 17-yard shot just wide of the left post eight minutes after intermission. It was the first of 10 cracks they would take at the Fremd net as the pressure built to a relentless level in the final 15 minutes.

“The last 20 minutes or so we were going all-out,” Bucz said. “We were doing everything we could. I think we had one defender back in our defensive half, so we ended up getting the ball up front a lot. Luckily I was in the right place at the right time, got the ball in traffic and scored.”

Junior Sohum Buch initiated the tying goal by sending the ball into traffic in front of the net, where Bucz was able to poke it in from six yards out.

“I don’t know if we deserved it because we played so poorly in the first half,” Bucz said, “but second half we definitely deserved something to build on because we definitely played very well in the second half and especially the last 20 minutes.”

Waubonsie Valley coach Angelo DiBernardo was pleased though not shocked that his team staved off defeat so late in the contest.

“[You don’t see it] very often but it does happen occasionally,” DiBernardo said. We’ve been on the other side of it. Today we were on the positive side of it.”

So what was the difference down the stretch?

“I thought that the first half we did not have the energy that we needed to in order to compete,” DiBernardo said. “Second half we made some changes, moved some people around and that gave us more energy in the middle of the field and I think that’s what got us through.”

Of course, in the shootouts you need a little luck and the Warriors (2-1) had that along with a solid effort from goalie Eddie Sanchez, who dove to his right to stop Fremd’s third shooter, Nathan Dolan. When Jonathon Braun scored for Waubonsie it gave the Warriors a 3-2 lead.

Sanchez got a hand on the next two shots, though both went in as the Vikings stayed alive on Jacob Cuthbert’s conversion. Jeffrey Ito then had a chance to win it for Waubonsie but his kick hit the crossbar.

Fremd’s Luke Kosacz put his team up 5-4 to start the sixth round, forcing Marcos Godinez to convert to keep the Warriors in it.

Luke Schoffstall, who along with Rentaro Shimizu was one of two freshmen making their varsity debuts for Fremd, then saw his penalty carom off the underside of the crossbar and out. That put the match on the foot of Waubonsie junior forward Drew Valek, who calmly drilled his shot into the lower left corner of the net for the clincher.

“I was just trying not to think about it,” Valek said. “I knew where I was going the whole time, so I put it in the corner and there’s no better feeling.

“I think we came with the mindset that we really wanted to win so we just pushed to the end and gave it our all and come out with the win.”

Despite the loss, Fremd showed marked improvement from its’ first tournament game, a 4-1 loss to Naperville Central.

“It was a much better effort,” Fremd coach Steve Keller said. “There were some glimpses of some good stuff. We had our moments and there were times when they were all over us. Unfortunately in the end there we had a couple of mental errors and broke down.

“We were under pressure and we have to do things differently as an offense to try to relieve some of that pressure; hold the ball a little longer, possess it in the attacking half, and we didn’t do that.”

Keller said that Dolan, defenders John Smith and Ben Borst played well and that Schoffstall, the younger brother of junior forward/midfielder Zach Schoffstall, and Shimizu were called up due to their potential.

“They’re good players that physical-wise and speed of play they’re not quite there yet, but they’ve got the touch and the skill,” Keller said.

Likewise, Waubonsie Valley is an inexperienced team that is showing flashes of exceeding expectations in the early going.

“It’s a young, inexperienced team,” DiBernardo said. “A lot of those players have not seen a lot of time at the varsity level. The inexperience is a negative but what I like about this group is they’re very coachable and they try to do what we ask them to do.”

The Warriors also don’t lack for drive.

“We lost a lot of seniors last year from our starting lineup so I feel like people don’t think we’re going to be very good,” Bucz said. “But we have a solid core of leadership coming back because we have six guys who are seniors now who have been on varsity since sophomore year, so I feel like that all helps us out a lot. We’re going to have a really good season, better than people think.”

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