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Coach: James VanDenburgh

Hornets drop home game to Hersey


By Bill Stone

So far this season, goals have been plentiful for the Hersey boys’ soccer team, especially for leading scorer John Cappuccitti.

That wasn’t the case Thursday at Hinsdale South. Cappuccitti, a senior center midfielder, had numerous unsuccessful shots. Then he received a hard shot less than three minutes into the second half that momentarily left him recovering on the turf and resulted in a yellow card being issued.

”I was getting hit a lot and I was just kind of getting frustrated,” Cappuccitti said. “Since we came a little late, I didn’t really get any touches on the ball (in warmups). That shouldn’t really matter. I think they targeted me, which really made a difference, but we’ve got other player who can play and score goals.”

Cappuccitti kept plugging away, and under the strangest of circumstances, he scored the Huskies’ final goal with 14:25 left that all but clinched a 3-1 victory in Darien in the second round of pool play in the annual Hinsdale Invitational.

The Huskies (3-0) are now 2-0 heading into the final game of Gold Group play Saturday. Hinsdale South (0-3) is 0-2.

Hersey’s final goal came on Cappucccitti’s team-best sixth goal of the season. The Huskies made a quick counterattack after Connor Reynolds headed out a free kick, Charlie Davenport booted the ball to a wide open area beyond midfield, and Cappuccitti raced after the ball. He barely beat charging goalie Julio Moreno to the ball at the 35-yard line and could watch as his tap made a long roll into the net.

”When I scored that goal, it was just a relief, like, ‘Here, I just did that to you. Now come back and try and do on us.’ I was just kind of, ‘In your face,’ right there,” Cappuccitti said.

Within the game’s first 14 minutes, Hersey senior Michael Kaczor scored his fifth goal this season assisted by Tim Griffin and senior Dan Gramer scored by rebounding a shot by Kaczor that was stopped by Moreno.

Hinsdale South scored but not until 1:45 left when Nick Kotsiantos knocked in Nathaniel Michaelis’ corner kick that initially was headed in the crease by Giancarlo Cianelli.

After three games, Hersey already has 13 goals. The Huskies beat Brother Rice 7-0 in their tournament opener Tuesday as Cappuccitti and Kaczor each had three goals. Griffin had a goal, Kaczor and Reynolds had two assists and Cappuccitti, Reynolds and George Boyle had one assist.
”Through summer league, we’ve been practicing a lot of shots and stuff. We’ re just trying to keep it up and get as many goals as possible,” Kaczor said. “I thought in the first half we were going really good and then when we came out in the second half, they started putting a lot of pressure on us. We just had to stick through the game the whole time and just go hard.”

The hard play resulted in needing two hands to count the yellow cards given between the two teams, most coming after halftime. Hersey coach Darren Llewellyn felt that the physical nature of the game affected his team’s ability to extend the lead.

”The referee let it go. It was just real inconsistent,” Llewellyn said. “We got through it so we’ll go from there. I’m happy the boys did stay in it and didn’t given in and they kept their heads pretty well, except for a couple of times, but for the most part, this is the type of game that isn’t exactly bad because we’re going to face it again. If you want to be a champion in any way, you’ve got to face adversity, and this is a little bit of adversity.”

There was still no denying the Huskies’ strong ball work, especially between Cappuccitti and Kaczor over the first 40 minutes. Hersey outshot the Hornets 16-2 and led 5-0 in corner kicks.

The Huskies nearly got a third goal in the opening half several times. With 17:30 left in the half, two Hinsdale South defenders nullified each other controlling the ball and Davenport found himself with a breakaway but couldn’t uncork a strong shot.

With 10:40 left, Moreno made a diving save after Cappuccitti dribbled turned and shot. A little more than a minute later, Davenport made a nice, high chip that Cappuccitti ran down but just pushed wide of the net.

”We didn’t feel like (our players) were playing soccer at all. It felt like it was 7-0,” Hinsdale South coach James VanDenburgh said. “We kind of took a look at ourselves at halftime and had to kind of regroup, light a fire under them and obviously they responded with a lot more intensity. We just wanted them to play soccer. And they came out in the second half to actually do that as they didn’t in the first half, let’s just say that. We didn’t have anything going.”

While the growing physical nature of the game probably tended to favor the Hornets, VanDenburgh also expressed concern with the pattern of calls.

”The referee needed to be a little more consistent with how he was calling the game, which I think led to the increased physicality of the game,” VanDenburgh said. “When you send that message to the players, it’s dangerous because then you’re constantly trying to find the right physicality, and our guys definitely like contact. And so did they. I thought it was a very physical game. I just didn’t want anyone to get hurt. We want to step up our game and play physically every game. It got a little out of hand, I thought, in this game.”

In the second half, Hinsdale South led 11-8 in shots (5-4 in shots on goal) and 2-1 in corner kicks. However, five of the Hornets’ shots came after Hersey opened a three-goal lead.

Hersey goalie Cristian Carranza had to stop Michael Meyers’ header on a Michaelis corner kick with 26 minutes left. Three minutes earlier, the ball deflected off a Hersey defender, and Meyers got it open right of the goal but shot wide.

”At halftime, we pretty much said just leave it all on the field and be more physical because this ref was letting a lot go, which I like,” Michaelis said. “We came off the field saying we did a lot better than we did the first half and that’s basically what we want to do at the start of the game. We just want to come out physical and play the whole game with that 110 percent mentality.”

Michaelis personifies that kind of spirit. With about two minutes left and the verdict no longer in question, Michaelis blasted a free kick from beyond midfield that forced Carranza to leap and push the ball off the crossbar and over the goal. The Hornets scored on Michaelis’ ensuing corner kick.  

”It’s something I love to do. I feel like especially with this team, we’re big and strong compared to some of the other teams so we win a lot of the 50-50 balls out of those set pieces,” Michaelis said.

”I would definitely say Nathaniel has put his mark on every game that we’ve played. I’ve challenged everyone to meet his intensity level,” VanDenburgh said. “I think he is kind of the lifeblood of our team right now. He kind of sticks out because he plays in a very high-frequency area in the middle of the field and he’s able to control the game.”

In its pool finale, Hersey faces perennial power Morton at 10 a.m. Saturday at Hinsdale South for the right to advance to the championship game against the Red Group champion at Hinsdale Central’s Dickinson Field.  Hinsdale South plays host to Brother Rice at noon.

Any kind of offense will be welcome in that contest. Morton won last year’s meeting 1-0, which also decided the group title.

”They’re going to be very good. We actually always play them close every year and (last year’s goal) was off a mistake, too,” Cappuccitti said. “We’re going to need to play back and play defense a lot and hopefully catch them on a transition a couple of times. Hopefully Mike and I can put one in.”

It’ll also be a good test for the defensive line of seniors Michael Freda and Alex Mueller and juniors Campbell White and Jordan Rustemeyer. Llewellyn has been alternating in goal between junior Carranza and sophomore Brett Harris, who had the shutout against Brother Rice.

”I’m kind of excited because it’ll let me see what our defense can and can’t do. We need our defense tested,” Llewellyn said. “Morton will test us the way some of our other teams, like Wheeling and Elk Grove, and some of those real quick possession, combination teams will play so that’ll be good for us.”

The Hornets will seek a balanced effort. They impressed VanDenburgh despite losing their season opener at Wheaton Warrenville South 2-1 Aug. 27 while playing one player down most of the game because of a red card. They lost to Morton 5-0 Tuesday.

”I was definitely pleased with the result against Wheaton Warrenville South and pleased with the results here, but I was definitely expecting a lot more from us in the first half,” VanDenburgh said. ”(We told them tonight at halftime), ‘You’re in this game if you want to be in this game,’ and I think in the second half they showed at least they wanted to.”

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