Gators fall to unbeaten Chargers in FVC play
By Curt Herron
Consistency has been an issue for Crystal Lake South throughout the season.
Coach Brian allen's squad has had its moments where things click and they've enjoyed some success.
But the Gators have been unable to put together more than a two-match winning streak thus far this year.
On Thursday, South was hoping to make it two straight wins in Fox Valley Conference Valley Division play.
It figured to be a challenge since the Gators were meeting up with a Dundee-Crown squad which was unbeaten.
While South was coming off of a 6-0 win at Jacobs, it wasn't able to follow up on that against the Chargers.
Dundee-Crown didn't necessarily have that many more chances than the Gators did, but it made the most of them.
Two first-half goals set the tone and D-C added another after the break before South got one back in the late going.
The end result was a 3-1 Charger win in Crystal Lake in their FVC opener which improved them to 13-0-1 on the year.
Meanwhile, Allen's squad fell to 6-7 overall and 1-1 in the league prior to Tuesday's FVC home match with Cary-Grove.
"You can call it growing pains, but ultimately, the guys just need to step up," Allen said. "To be fair, I thought that our younger guys performed pretty well today under the circumstances of going up against a quality side.
"My disappointment actually lies in the returning players in rising up to a big-time game and setting the bar. I've got to give credit to guys like Mike Woeste and Jake Canfield and some other sophomores, who I thought held their own.
"The guys who we were looking to to carry us were a step behind, a step slow or maybe a bit intimidated or scared and we have to fix that if we're going to compete."
While the scoreboard showed the hosts up in shots on goal at the break, the visitors possessed the total that mattered.
"You can't take plays off, you can't take micro-naps," Allen said. "You have to credit D-C because we took two of them and they scored on both. Those were their two shots on goal and they're up 2-0 at half.
"We had four or five shots in that half but we just weren't as efficient in the final third. But that's what good teams do and hopefully our guys realize that and learn from it and shore it up before we meet Cary-Grove.
"I saw a little bit of fight late, which was good. We earned a free kick, and if we can score that it would have been 3-2 in the last five. We showed some grit that earlier in the year that probably would have been a 5-0 game."
The frenzied finish was indeed the most positive aspect for the Gators, who were close to make things really interesting.
In the 74th minute, Ryan Russmann fired in a shot that deflected off of a Charger defender and went in the net for a goal.
Then about 90 seconds later, Matt Tobolt was fouled just outside of the box. His subsequent free kick just missed going in.
The Chargers, who have allowed only four other goals this year, effectively ran out the rest of the time to end the drama.
Dundee-Crown started the season at 11-0 before settling for a draw with Hononegah on Saturday in the latter's tournament.
Charger coach Rey Vargas has obviously been pleased with his team's efforts so far as well with winning their FVC opener.
"We just continue to do what we've been doing all season," Vargas said. "We're not trying to change too much. We want the guys to step up in big games like this. When you go up against tough teams like South, you just have to be ready for it and they seemed to be.
"This is an experienced group and most of these guys have been playing together for awhile. They got a little bit of a taste last year and they don't want to have that same letdown feeling happen again so they're going to just fight until the end.
"I like the way that the guys play together and how they listen and are working hard for each other and not just playing as individuals. They all possess enough talent for us to be able to beat good teams but they've been proving that they can work together."
The Gators had a few early chances from freshman Andrew Grabowski but it was the Chargers who were able to connect first.
In the 19th minute, Gerarado Escorza was the recipient of a long pass and then got free for what was the go-ahead score.
Jake Canfield headed a loose ball out of harm's way right after that but the Chargers continued to apply the pressure.
That paid off in the 25th minute when Juan Ramos sent a pass inside to Escorza, who promptly connected from close range.
South tried to get one back over the next few minutes but Orlando Tapia and Stefan Harris were both denied on attempts.
After D-C's Francisco Nava was thwarted on a long free kick, the squads went to the break with the visitors up by two.
The Gators tried to change that scenario early in the final half but keeper Jose Gonzalez broke up an effort by Tobolt.
Shortly after Gonzalez punched away a liner on a corner kick by Austin Lamping, Nava was turned away on the other end.
D-C grabbed a 3-0 lead in the 55th minute when a throw-in resulted in a header by Carlos Ramos that was ruled as a goal.
Over the next few minutes, South's best chance came when Lamping sent pass to Tapia, who put a header just over the net.
The Chargers got good shots from Daniel Maldonado and Ben Stone but the Gators finally broke through on Russmann's try.