Vikings settle for scoreless draw with Pirates
By Curt Herron
What do you get when you match two excellent coaching staffs who stress strong defensive play up against one another?
Then throw in the fact that they've been playing well defensively of late and the match is one involving civic pride.
Either it was a whole lot of nothing or plenty of something that was really good, depending on your own perspective.
The answer to the question is your typical Fremd-Palatine match, which saw its latest version rescheduled to Monday.
With a big crowd on hand at Hildebrandt field for the annual gathering of the sides, things went pretty much to form.
Neither one let the other get much of an attack going as the defenses dictated play in the Mid Suburban League match.
The Pirates and Vikings not only struggled to connect for the intended 80 minutes, but for an additional 20, as well.
When all was said and done on the cool evening, neither had any goals to show for their efforts in a scoreless draw.
On the other hand, they both had a good deal to be pleased with as they kicked off busy weeks of conference play.
Both squads have three matches during the first four days of the week and the Vikings also have a Saturday contest.
Because there was no resolution to the match, the Pirates retained the Kinsella Cup which they won back a year ago.
But in the bigger picture, two squads who entered the year with some question marks continue to make good progress.
Both sides have allowed one goal in the last four matches. The Pirates have eight shutouts and the Vikings have four.
The Vikings (3-5-3, 2-1-1) play at Prospect tonight while the Pirates (6-2-3, 1-2-2) entertain Hersey this evening.
"Obviously our back four played very well and it was about those guys not making any mistakes," Pirates coach Willie Filian said. "Kyle Clancy is our best player and has been for the last three years. He organizes those guys well and if the make a mistake or miss a tackle, he's there to cover it up.
"Evan Braun has been rock solid and doesn't come off of the field. Brennan Harding and Liam Obernesser have been in a rotation and they're very defensively solid, as well. If we're tight defensively, then we're in every game. Fremd's a quality offensive group and I'm really proud since not only did we shut them out but we really limited their opportunities in 100 minutes.
"Our chances have been coming, but we've just had troubles, especially on set pieces. We just haven't found that streak where you get a goal and guys get confident. Our goal has been to start collecting three points a game and with the way that we've been playing in the back, we know that it's just going to take one goal in some games, but we can't to find that, either."
The Pirates have been solid defensively all season, allowing just five goals, including three coming in one match.
However, it's been a little different story for the Vikings, who allowed 11 goals in their initial seven matches.
"We've had certain guys who've stepped up in leadership roles and we've also had guys who probably weren't playing much earlier in the year who don't leave the field now," Vikings coach Steve Keller said. "The identity of the team has come together a little bit.
"Tonight was a good, hard-fought game. But that's always the way it is between Fremd and Palatine. It's a rival so there's intensity and the adrenaline is going and that's pretty much what you saw. You saw guys going hard, a a lot of 50-50 balls and play through the midfield and not many opportunities. It was pretty much what you'd expect to see.
"For the most part, I'm pleased since we're defending well. We have Danny Burton on the left and Lukas Kosacz on the right. And in the middle we had Tomas Peleckas and Jon Smith, and Brock Von Holt back there with Tomas out with injury. The two guys on the outside really understand the concept of what we're trying to do and are doing a good job at it.
"Danny and Lukas are relentless with great work rates. And Tomas and Jon in the middle were steady and communicated to get the job done. Giving up just one goal in the last four games is very good. Offensively we can improve, we can create more and we're going to have to. But I like to build a team defense first since defense wins championships."
While both sides struggled to get chances, they each had a few, but most of the best early ones were off the mark.
One of those that was on target came early when Jahir Flores was denied by first-half Viking keeper Dylan Fisher.
Nathan Dolan was wide on a shot off a corner from Zach Schoffstall, whose throw-in resulted in a wide Dolan header.
After Tyler Curylo was high on a try following a Rafael Esquivel corner, Ben Poder was denied by keeper Kyle Leber.
Around the midpoint of the opening half, Brock Von Holt sent a free kick wide and Tadeo Lara was high on a liner.
Late in the first half, two Pirate tries were cleared by defenders before Sergio Hernandez placed an attempt wide.
"There was very good defense being played and no one could get much going on offense," Pirates junior Evan Braun said. "We had a few chances that we could have scored on in both halves. Our defense has really had a good season so far and we'd like to keep it up.
"The thing that I like about our team is our work rate. We're not the best-skilled team but we work hard in every game and we push through and get results. We lost nine out of 11 starters from last year but a lot of guys have stepped up for us this season."
The only examples of scoring came during halftime, when young members of the Celtic SC played in three exhibitions.
Once the varsity squads returned to the field, they started to put together some better chances that were on goal.
New keeper William LeFevre was greeted by a long try from Gavin Falotico and Esquivel sent a corner through the box.
Flores and Hernandez were thwarted a bit later and Kurt Rettke had a try deflected on the other side of the field.
The Vikings had a nice back-and-forth between Schoffstall and Poder but Schoffstall's short shot went over the net.
With 10 minutes left in regulation, Schoffstall looked like he scored but the goal was disallowed by an offside.
"We knew from the start that it was going to be a pretty good battle between the two of us," Vikings senior Austin Bratkiv said. "We were hoping to get the win out of it, but it is what it is since they played really well and we played really well.
"I think that we could have gotten a goal, but we were both fighting so hard and it was very, very close. We've improved a lot as a team this season. We have such a variety of guys with seniors and juniors as well as some young guys, so it varies.
"We're really good friends with all of the guys on the team and hang out with them and they're just great guys. We're learning to play better with each other and I think we're going to keep improving and there's really good hopes for the rest of the season."
In the first overtime, Kyle Clancy sent in a dangerous long free kick and LeFevre stopped an effort by Kevin Burke.
After two Schoffstall corners in the final overtime, Hernandez and Keigo Oharu were denied to assure the deadlock.
Although the cup remained in the hands of the Pirates, there was no real enjoyment derived from the scoreless draw.
"It was unfortunate that no one could walk away with a win," Pirates junior Tyler Curylo said. "We both were really solid and played our hearts out and left everything on this field. We walked away with the Kinsella Cup but it doesn't feel the same.
"Our back line is very strong, so that's a good thing. We need to really pounce on our chances since you don't get many in games. This was our third or fourth 100-minute game where we can't come out with the result that we want but at least we got the shutout."