Davenport's overtime goal lifts Huskies past Hawks
By Eric Van Dril
Confidence can be a powerful thing when one takes a free kick, and Hersey senior Charlie Davenport had it in droves when he stood over his free kick in overtime against Hoffman Estates on Saturday in Arlington Heights.
“He sure knew he had it,” Hersey coach Darren Llewellyn said. “He ran up, grabbed the ball, put it down and there was not even a question in his mind. That was a signal.”
As he lined up his shot with the score tied in overtime, Davenport knew what he had to do with the ball. He had to use finesse on the 20-yard shot, he said, and drop the ball over the wall set up about 10 yards in front of him.
He also had to hit it into a corner because Hoffman Estates sophomore goalkeeper Christian Peralta, who was the biggest reason why a winless Hawks team within the Mid Suburban League was able to take Hersey to overtime, was having such an impressive game.
Davenport took a short run up to the ball and struck a beautiful free kick. The kick was struck delicately, but not too much so, and it dipped just how Davenport had hoped.
Peralta had no chance at stopping it because it went right over the wall Hoffman Estates had set up and into the top corner of the net. The goal gave Hersey a 3-2 victory in overtime against a pesky Hoffman Estates squad which just wouldn't stop fighting.
It also allowed the Huskies (9-2-2, 5-1 MSL) to breathe easily and continue their pursuit of a division title.
The Huskies senior was tackled by his teammates on the field after the match and he had little beads of Hersey's turf on his neck and face as he answered questions about his goal.
“Probably among the best feelings in the world,” said Davenport, when asked how it feels to score a golden goal. “To win the game for my team on a free kick in overtime, it's pretty nice.”
Davenport said he practices free kicks a lot, but he hasn't been the player who's taken the majority of them this year.
That role has fallen to midfielder John Cappuccitti, but the senior hurt his ankle in the final five minutes of the second half.
Llewellyn said Cappuccitti, who scored Hersey's first two goals of the match, left the game and stayed on the sideline for overtime to ensure he didn't do further damage to it for Hersey's difficult stretch of matches to end its regular season.
The hierarchy on Hersey's free kicks might change moving forward, Llewellyn said, after Davenport showed so much belief in himself in overtime.
“(Davenport) might be the guy,” Llewellyn said. “It depends who's confident. The kid walks up and says, 'I've got it, coach.' You pretty much just go with it.”
While Davenport was the hero of his teams's 3-2 victory, it was Cappuccitti who was integral in getting them to overtime.
The senior tallied two goals against the Hawks, the first of which brought Hersey level at 1-1 with 28:28 remaining in the second half.
Hoffman Estates held a 1-0 lead for about 22 minutes of game time after sophomore forward Remzi Ahmeti scored the match's first goal against the run of play.
The ball reached his feet in the box because of a fortunate bounce off of a deflection. He then faked a defender, got an open look at goal and rolled a right-footed shot past junior Cristian Carranza.
The goal was somewhat of a stunner since the young Hawks have struggled to score all season and Hersey had nearly twice as many shots on goal than Hoffman Estates at that point.
Throughout the entire match, Hoffman Estates received outstanding goalkeeping from Peralta. The sophomore saved 21 of 24 shots on goal on Saturday, including at least two one-on-one opportunities which seemed certain they would be converted for Huskies goals.
Hersey also failed to convert two quality crosses early in the match, which landed in the six-yard box but bounced away from danger.
“At the beginning of the game, we missed a lot of early chances – (there were) a lot of saves,” Llewellyn said. “We were right in front of the goal, by ourselves, and we hit it where the keeper could get a foot on it. We didn't finish. It was the same in the Elk Grove game.
“We didn't finish, and when you don't finish in the Mid Suburban, this is a classic example – the longer you leave a team in the game, the more inspired they get and the harder they play. They started winning the ball over and over and over. That's when they scored.”
Hoffman Estates, despite having won just one game this season, saw its belief balloon with Ahmeti's goal and Peralta's play in net.
It was Cappuccitti, however, who provided the breakthrough for Hersey by trying something different.
The senior created space for himself just outside of the top of the 18-yard box, and he struck a quick, side-footed shot into the back of the net. Cappuccitti's side-footed shot seemed to surprise Peralta, who repeatedly showed his ability to stop blasts on Saturday.
Cappuccitti struck again with 8:26 remaining in the second half, when he received a pass from senior midfielder Michael Kaczor, who had beat his defender. Then Cappuccitti put Hersey ahead with a little poke of a shot, which found its way past Peralta.
The ability to finish in a variety of ways is something which sets Cappuccitti apart from most high school players, and it's another reason why he's so vital for Hersey to have him at full strength moving forward.
“He has so much energy,” said Davenport, of Cappuccitti. “Whenever he's on the field on the attack, it's always a threat.
“But then, when he's out, we don't really have as much of the energy up top, making the runs. He has the ability to go one-on-one with a player and is always a threat to score.”
Although they conceded the go-ahead goal, the Hawks kept coming. They tried to hold possession and pass the ball around the field, as they did throughout much of the match, and they benefited from another fortuitous deflection.
A Hoffman Estates cross was sent into the six-yard box and, after it took a deflection off of a Hersey defender, the ball settled at sophomore Ricky Choi's feet right in front of goal. The midfielder calmly booted it into a wide-open net with 1:39 remaining in regulation.
The goal was a stunner for Hersey, who had switched to a 4-4-1-1 formation right before Choi's goal in order to try to prevent the Hawks from scoring a late equalizer.
The hosts also received solid play from defensive-minded players like Michael Freda, Campbell White, Jordan Rustemeyer, Conor Reynolds and Alex Mueller for most of the match.
All but juniors White and Rustemeyer from that group – the first three are defenders, the last two are defensive midfielders – are seniors.
Still, the Huskies prevailed in overtime without momentum on their side and without their most dangerous offensive player on the field.
“I really thought we kind of got frustrated (against Hoffman Estates), but my message was simple,” Llewellyn said. “You've got to overcome adversity. You have to overcome, even in overtime. If you want to win a (MSL) championship, you've got to overcome."