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Coach: Ryan Estabrook
Assistant coaches: Brad Jerdee, Dan Miller
Matt D’Onofrio Jr., D
Ryan Anderson Jr., M
Jason Lagger Jr., M
Sam Urben Sr., D
Calen Colbert Jr., M
Kyle Muzzarelli Sr., M
Dylan Lange Jr., D
Beck Nebergall Sr., M
Grant Bracken Sr., F
Matt Sweet Fr., D
Matt Luetzen Jr., D
Matt Waldoch Fr., M
Drew Klaus So., D
Joe Mozden Sr., GK
Ryan Ulin Jr., D
Ethan Nims Jr., D
Kris Brandli Sr., F

Vikings fall in "frustrating" loss to Larkin


By Darryl Mellema

Judging the exact emotion on Geneva’s sideline following Tuesday’s 3-1 Upstate Eight Conference River Division match with Larkin was tricky.

Of course there was frustration. But there was also some anger and certainly there was some head-shaking disbelief that a match in which the Vikings stood toe-to-toe with their visitors had ended in such a one-sided manner – if the only criterion is the number of goals scored.

And even there, Geneva felt it should have had at least one more than it was credited with.

But after 80 minutes, the Royals were clear winners and Geneva (1-2, 0-2) was left to pick up the pieces.

“I guess it’s tough to win when those kind of things happen,” Geneva coach Ryan Estabrook said. “I am still kind of amazed that we lost this game. We outplayed them for big stretches. They had a few moments of magic. Their No. 10 had some great strikes. But besides that, I felt we played decent. It was a terrible outcome for us.”

“No. 10” was Gonsalo Perez, and he was devastating to Geneva’s efforts – starting with the match-opening goal in the third minute of play. Perez scored again 13 minutes into the second half – and when added to Hector Mendoza’s bullet strike in the second minute of that second half, the Royals took advantage of the opportunities Geneva allowed.

“The first half, it was a bad giveaway by us and a great shot,” Estabrook said. “We start the second half and had another bad giveaway by us. We’ve got to learn our lesson on those. Sometimes you’ve got to be effective in the back rather than trying to possess and be pretty.”

And Geneva did score – when Grant Bracken tucked home the rebound after a Jason Lagger free kick was saved but not held nine minutes before halftime.

Through the match, Lagger was a particular problem for Larkin, with his forward runs but also his midfield distribution.

“We call him ‘Squaggler,’” Estabrook said. “He kind of squiggles with the ball and he’s got some swagger and his name is Lagger. He’ll be an effective player for us going forward in the attack but also when he plays as the holding mid. I don’t think he’s had his breakout performance yet. He’s playing fine, but I think he’ll have a game where he’ll make some jaws drop. He’s got some outstanding moves and he’s got a great work rate and he understands the game well.”

On a night when play increasingly went directly toward Larkin’s net as Geneva sought to recover the deficit, Bracken consistently provided width on the Burgess Field artificial turf.

But other than Bracken’s goal, Geneva was unable to score. There were considerable chances, however, and with 17 minutes to play in the first half the Vikings were sure they scored when Beck Nebergall hit a blistering shot toward the upper right corner of the net. The ball appeared to go past the post and hit the stanchion and then rebound back into the field of play. But the officials ruled that the ball had hit either the crossbar or post and not crossed the goal line and the goal was not given.

After the match, Estabrook referenced the 2010 World Cup incident in which England midfielder Frank Lampard hit a blazing shot in the second round match against Germany that hit the underside of the crossbar and landed well inside the German goal. But the Germans retrieved the ball, played it upfield and none of the officials saw it cross the line – so no goal was given – and Germany went to win the match.

Nebergall’s no-goal came in the middle of one-sided Geneva dominance. First Matt Waldoch hit a shot from the top of the penalty area that went off the crossbar. Then the Vikings received a penalty kick for a breakaway foul in the penalty area. Nebergall stepped up and struck the ball firmly, but Larkin goalie Leo Perez made the save.

Fortunately, Bracken’s goal allowed the Vikings to head to halftime tied 1-1. Despite further dominance, there was no such salvation in the second half.

But there was another penalty kick – with 8:28 left. This time Bracken had his shot saved by Perez.

“We’ve had those guys practice penalties and we give them the option of who’s going to take them during the game,” Estabrook said. “They were both struck pretty well and the keeper made some great saves. What’s more disappointing is that we weren’t there to follow them up, because there were rebounds on both of them, but we were kind of frozen. It counts just the same if you score on the penalty kick or if someone follows it up.”

Although the Vikings are 1-2, there is a sense that they have played better than their record shows as they prepare for a Thursday non-conference match with DeKalb.

“It’s extremely frustrating,” Estabrook said. “I’m amazed that we lost both of these games. I thought on Saturday (against Streamwood), we did enough to earn a draw and I thought tonight that we should have won. I know it sounds strange that we lost by two goals, but I thought we played well enough to win. But I guess the important thing is that Larkin did what they needed to at the important times and we clearly didn’t.”

Geneva has six seniors and the team has an abundance of playing experience. But in terms of varsity play, the Vikings are going through some of these situations for the first time, and their response in coming matches will tell which direction their season will take.

“You don’t want your team to develop a losing mentality,” Estabrook said. “The first game of the year, we scored a 76th-minute goal to win at Oswego and you start to expect those positive things to happen. On the other side, when you lose, it’s hard to turn those things around. It’s my job as a coach to get this ship righted.”

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