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Phone 847.956.1818
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Coach: Jason Franco
Assistant coaches:
Tim Harte, Dan Harte, Mark Davis
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Marcus Williams Sr., GK
Patryk Openchowski Sr., GK
Bobby Wozniak Sr., D
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Chase Hermanson Jr., F
Ben Hyde So., M
Nathan Marasigan Sr., D
Joey Connolly Jr., F
Victor Moskal Sr., M
Dino Kandalepas Sr., F
Matt Myers Jr., M
Matt Moglia Jr., M
Ejike Okpa Sr., F
Kyle Brown Sr., D
Griffin Wooley Sr., D
Kevin Sindewald Fr., M
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Branden Dos Santos Sr., D
Bianca Madonia Manager
Nicole Lorenz Manager


Short-handed Cougars can't hold off Wildcats


By Anthony Zilis

Neuqua Valley coach Skip Begley was confident during the second half of the Wildcats' game against Conant on Saturday as his team controlled play while a short-handed Cougar team sat back and defended.

Both teams were handicapped with players gone for ACT testing, but the Cougars' relatively small roster caught the worst of it, with just two players sitting on their bench.

But Conant's back line, with plenty of help from goalkeeper Patryk Openchowski, held stout for most of the second half after the teams traded goals near the end of the first.

Finally, the Wildcats broke through with goals from Connor LeFevour and Jake Loncar in the final eight minutes to notch their third straight win with a 3-1 victory in Naperville.

“It was one of those games where I felt comfortable that I thought we'd get one,” Begley said. “I would've hoped it wouldn't have come in the last eight minutes, that it would've taken us that long.

“Overall, I thought it was a good day, we had some good combination play.”

All Conant left with was knowledge that, with an undermanned squad, it hung with a top-class team. Even after a late-game loss, the positives were certainly on the Cougars' minds.

“To come out here and play toe-to-toe, I was proud of that,” Conant coach Jason Franco said. “I was not happy with the breakdowns in the last eight minutes, but it's an okay result considering the circumstances.

“We've got two of the toughest games on our schedule coming up next week. I said, 'Learn from it, let's get ready to go for it Tuesday against a very good Wheeling team.'”

Early on, Neuqua (6-3) pressured the Conant goal, with several shots in the first 20 minutes of the game. But two saves by Openchowski on shots from Loncar kept the game level.

Neuqua finally broke through with just over 16 minutes left in the first half, when Loncar settled a cross from LeFevour just outside the six-yard box and slammed the ball into the back of the net.

Just over a minute later, Conant (4-5-2) answered back when forward Dino Kandalepas volleyed a near-post shot from the top of the penalty area into the back of the net.

With 12:30 left in the half, Wildcat forward Ryan Ross stole the ball in the offensive third and charged through on a breakaway, but he couldn't find the frame and his shot went wide.

In the second half, a fatigued Conant side sat back after playing the night before, and Neuqua had several chances early.

Its best opportunity during that time came with 29 minutes left when Loncar was played through by Xavi Ortiz, but Openchowski collected the ball before he could shoot.

Neuqua controlled possession for most of the half and it finally broke through when LeFevour settled a cross with eight minutes left and hit his shot into the back of the net.

About two minutes later, Loncar blocked a Conant clearance, dribbled into the penalty area and slotted a shot into the lower corner.

“[Loncar's] day was exemplified by that last goal,” Begley said. “He just worked hard, out-worked them, got to the ball and got to the net.”

Although they moved ahead for good late, the Wildcats picked up an encouraging result for the third straight game.

“It feels good,” Loncar said. “There was a lot of high energy coming out and we're just trying to keep going on a streak and try to win conference.”

The Cougars just couldn't hang on after falling the night before to Schaumburg. But they took plenty of positives away from this one.

“You start feeling it in the second half after awhile,” Kandalepas said. “We had a game last night, too, even more fatigue started building up.

“That's not an excuse, we broke down … There's nothing to lose in this game. It's not conference, so we've got to learn from this and get back at it next week.”

Saturday wasn't the clinical performance Begley necessarily would have liked.

But on Homecoming weekend and missing players for a nonconference game, he was happy that his team pulled out a positive result.

“Overall, with the conditions of people being gone, I know they played last night and it's a nonconference game, sometimes the intensity isn't what coaches would like,” Begley said.

“But a victory is a win. To balance everything out, I'm pretty happy.”


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