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Warriors edged by Illiana Christian in AT Tourney


By Chris Walker

Sometimes there are those special moments when the momentum swings in a soccer match.

Unfortunately those swings don’t always result in a victory.

Willowbrook scored a first half equalizer with just 2.4 seconds left on the clock, but wasn’t able to do anything more the rest of the evening and dropped a 2-1 decision to Illiana Christian on Tuesday in the Addison Trail Tourney.

“We’ve been very good in the first half,” Willowbrook coach Peter Ginter said. “We’re falling apart in the second half.”

Willowbrook (0-2-0) dropped a 5-1 decision to Maine West in its season opener but was knotted at 1-1 at halftime in that loss before some defensive lapses in the second half.

On Tuesday, the Warriors had their fair share of scoring opportunities but just could not deliver a big blow.

Even when an opportunistic scoring situations arose – such as with under four minutes remaining in the first half when sophomore Lucas Betts attempted a 26-yard free kick – the team came up short.

“We’re young and it’s going to take some time for them to learn some things,” Ginter said. “We only have five returners from last year so the majority of these guys have never played varsity before.

“This was just their second game and I think we’ll have a good team down the road.”

Ginter installed a 4-2-3-1 this fall so he’s still teaching as much as he’s coaching.

He’s stressing patience, because he understands he’s working with teenagers that want immediate success. Such an equation is never very easy to complete.

“They’re really buying into it and so far I think we’re playing better with it,” Ginter said.

“We just have a little bit too much inexperience on the field and in handling the situations at-hand. It takes really good mental toughness to succeed.”

Freshman Ricardo Santillan, sophomore Aaron Johnson and junior Mike Rogalski all had legitimate scoring opportunities in the final 90 seconds of the opening half.

Johnson ended up getting a second chance and delivered with 2.4 on the clock to tie things up.

“I thought the kids showed a lot of courage and mental discipline at that point by not giving up,” Ginter said. “I’ve been really pleased with how they keep working hard.”

Scoring such a late equalizer heading into halftime appeared to potentially also bring a momentum swing into the final 40 minutes of play, but it didn’t.

Illiana Christian controlled possession for the greater majority of the second half.

“When you’re as young as we are it’s tough to be consistent,” Ginter said. “We have a good future with these kids, though, and a lot more games to play so this is just the beginning and we’ll learn from this.”

Illiana (1-2-1) controlled the tempo for most of the second half and ultimately made the Warriors pay with 20:46 remaining.

Senior Matt Kimmel, who also tallied the winner’s first goal, dribbled his way past midfield and through the defense before booting in the game-winner.

“My eyes got bigger as I got my way through,” Kimmel said. “Seldom do I have midfielders out there helping so I decided to take it myself. I think I got kind of lucky as I hit it past one player’s legs and then was able to go one way and the goalie went the other.”

Kimmel was worried that the Warriors late score in the first half could ignite Willowbrook.

“They get that late goal which I’m sure it felt good for them,” Kimmel said. “I don’t think our defense was quite ready for that, but give (Willowbrook) credit because they delivered. Our coach gave us a good pep talk at halftime then. We were tired of losing anyway so this feels very good.”

Willowbrook didn’t create many chances in the final 20 minutes to get one past Illiana Christian goalie Chad Ketelaar and knot the contest at two apiece.

Although the Warriors have started out their season at 0-2, they are trying to keep things in perspective.

Only five of the players on their roster are seniors so with more experience, the wins will ultimately come.

“We know we’re going to make some mistakes but we’re excited with what we think the (kids) can do,” Ginter said. “We’ll just move on to our next one. It’s a busy time of year right now."


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