Huskies' strong play continues vs. Prospect
By Bill Hupp
On a clear, beautiful night for soccer, Hersey managed to rise head and shoulders above Prospect in their Mid Suburban League clash.
The Huskies used two headers off a set piece to take an early lead, and then defended set pieces vigorously with their tall backline to earn a 1-0 home win at Roland Goins Field.
Like most games this year in the MSL, it was a physical, low-scoring affair that featured double digit fouls and plenty of white-knuckle moments until the final whistle.
The Huskies struck first for the game’s lone goal off a free kick just 15 minutes into the game, when six-foot-three senior fullback Charlie Davenport took a long free kick from the 40 yard line on the far side of the field.
Davenport struck a line drive to the near post, where it met the head of six-foot-two senior fullback Alex Mueller at the near post. Mueller nodded it across the box to the far post, where six-foot senior defender Connor Reynolds lofted it over the head of Knights goalie Jack Cooney.
That’s right -- three big defenders were responsible for the game’s only tally.
“I always try to loft it between the far post and the six-yard line,” Davenport said. “Guys like Connor, Mueller and [six-foot-one senior midfielder Michael Kaczor] can all get up in the air, and that time it worked out.”
That size also helped Hersey protect its lead, as Mueller, Davenport, Reynolds and Campbell White helped the Huskies turn away 10 Prospect corner kicks and multiple dangerous set pieces by winning the battle in the air. They also blocked a bunch of Knights shots, rarely forcing goalie Cristian Carranza to make a difficult save.
“They had the clear advantage in the air on corners when we were taking set pieces,” said Prospect coach Kurt Trenkle. “It was a typical MSL game.”
His counterpart agreed.
“Our size makes a huge difference in the air,” Hersey coach Darren Llewellyn said, grinning. “Especially Charlie and Campbell are really good back there. We have the size to defend and we’re finally going to the balls served off of set pieces.”
Hersey’s Loyola-bound star striker John Cappuccitti challenged Cooney a couple times during the game. In the first half, he blasted a free kick into the wall and then hit a swerving volley over the wall and the crossbar.
Early in the second half, Cappuccitti cut it back on his right foot, made some space and hit a rising laser that forced the Prospect goalie to punch it wide for a Huskies corner.
In an intense, physical, back-and-forth contest, the Knights put on a late charge to the end, putting pressure on Hersey and forcing corner kick after corner kick. With 3:04 left, a free kick was loose in the box but Carranza came off his line and pounced on it, and with 30 second to play a Prospect throw in was cleared, but the Knights still managed to fire one last long blast that bounced into Carranza’s arms at the horn.
Afterward, Knights coach Kurt Trenkle had to speak to a dejected group of kids that had fought hard and possessed well, but couldn’t find the equalizer.
“For stretches of the game, I think we played some of our best soccer of the season,” Trenkle said. “Our heads went down after they got their goal, which has happened all season. We talked at halftime about just getting better every day, and I saw a lot of really positive things in the second half.”
Valiant though their effort was, Prospect (0-9-2) is still looking for its first win of the season, having dropped its fourth one-goal decision in conference play.
“The hard part for the boys right now is keeping their focus, keeping a positive attitude when all this bad stuff keeps happening to us,” Trenkle said.” I’m really proud of all of them right now because other teams would have quit long ago.”
Trenkle was especially pleased with defender Ian Lenke and junior midfielder Alex Whiteman. Bryan Velazquez and Chris Garcia also made an impact on the contest.
“They were in our face as much as we were in theirs,” Llewellyn said. “They played us even and had a lot of chances. They beat us last year in double OT, so I didn’t know what to expect tonight. Every game they’ve played has been close, and it’s because they don’t quit and they’re very aggressive.”
Meanwhile, Hersey is rolling. The Huskies are 5-0-2 in their last seven games, with a team that starts nine seniors and is playing with a sense of fearlessness and urgency
“Experience for us is huge,” Llewellyn said. “They’re not intimated at all coming into a game. We have to run the table (to win conference), so every game is a championship game for us now.”