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Coach: Peter Ginter
Eddie De La Cruz
Aaron Johnson So., M
Lucas Betts So., M
Anthony Pieroni Jr., D
Andre Milcent Jr., M
Jeff Rios Jr., F
Pedro Mendoza Jr., M
Gideon Karasek Jr., M
Dylon Jones Sr., D
Dan Torres Sr., D
Jesus Vergara Jr., D
Jonathan Cruz Sr., F
Rokas Dubinas Sr., M
Riad Perviz Jr., D
Mike Rogalski Jr., F
Sergio Rojas Jr., F
Mike Sommers So., M
Ricardo Santillan Fr., F
Collin Doherty So., M
Asmir Perviz So., GK
Joe Draus Jr., GK


Perviz, Warriors' defense solid again


By Dave Owen

Willowbrook goalkeeper Asmir Perviz is learning fast.

The sophomore is a virtual newcomer to his spot between the posts, but Perviz is playing a big role for a Warriors’ defense that continued its resurgence Thursday in a 0-0 tie against Glenbard East.

“I had played goalkeeper for three games with my club team,” Perviz said. “I just started this year – they asked me if I would try it, and I said ‘why not, might as well try something new.’ I’d played every position before.

“Coach 'D' (assistant Eddie De La Cruz) spends a lot of time with me one-on-one. We go out there in practice, and he sometimes stays after and helps me. He helps me out with training, points out stuff that I could fix, and just helps me brush everything off so I can get clear when the game is going on.”

Perviz received a big helping hand in his first career shutout Thursday from two sources – mainly his teammates, and on one occasion the crossbar.

Willowbrook’s bid for a three-game unbeaten streak appeared in jeopardy with 32:14 left when a Glenbard East cross into the box appeared to hit a Warriors’ defender in the elbow area, but a hand ball ruling awarded the Rams a penalty kick.

The Rams’ Ivailo Alexandrov lined the ensuing PK over a diving Perviz but off the crossbar. The ball then caromed high in the air and over the net.

“I thought that was going in,” Perviz said. “I looked up and it hit the post, and I was praying to God it wouldn’t fall down and just roll right in.

“But it wasn’t even a hand ball – that was the tough thing. Justice served the ball.”

Perviz had to come up big again later to preserve the shutout.

With 24:30 left, he swatted aside an 8-yard blast from Brian Mika. Then with Willowbrook teammates Dylon Jones, Riad Perviz and Cabral racing back to provide assistance on a partial breakaway, Perviz made a save on a chip to the right post with 15:50 to go.

One more wild sequence came at the 2:40 mark when Perviz got a hand on Mika’s header off a Rams’ corner kick. Defender Tito Cabral nicely shielded the ball from any quick rebound attempts, and while lying on the ground, Perviz stopped and covered an eventual rolling shot from close in.

“I thought they were going to get the rebound back,” Perviz said, “but I saw his (the shooter’s) foot was off balance so I didn’t think he would get the right shot off. I was glad he didn’t.

“Tito does a phenomenal job clearing out the ball for me,” Perviz added. “And when I have situations where the guy’s coming at me, our guys do a phenomenal job coming back – Tito, (Anthony) Pieroni, plus (forwards and midfielders) (Mike) Rogalski, (Lucas) Betts, Gideon (Karasek), they all help out on defense. That helps me out so I don’t have too many stressful moments.”

But some stress remained. Perviz made a catch save at the right post of Sam Ayala’s shot from the end line with 1:15 left, then Pieroni capped his strong night with a great play in the final 30 seconds.

As Ayala tried to maneuver on the end line to create a corner kick, Pieroni deflected the ball off the Rams’ attacker and out of bounds for a Willowbrook throw-in.

“Anthony Pieroni made a great defensive play back there,” Willowbrook coach Peter Ginter said. “Our goalkeeper Asmir Perviz was tremendous and Tito played very well in the back.”

Ginter had big praise for another emerging young player.

“I thought Aaron Johnson gave us a lot more possession today in the midfield,” Ginter said. “He distributed the ball well and was very calm. I thought that was his best game of the year so far, and he’s only a sophomore so that’s great to see.”

While Glenbard East had the majority of chances late, Johnson helped the Warriors generate plenty of threats in the first 50 minutes of play.

Willowbrook challenged in the opening minute of the second half when Johnson took a Betts cross and lined a shot narrowly wide of the left post.

First half Warrior threats included Johnson’s 25-yard blast over the net in the 19th minute, and an offensive zone steal by Andre Milcent that set up Mike Sommers’ hard 30-yard shot wide of the net. Rogalski made a nice pass on Sommers’ chance, and Rogalski later skipped a low 34-yard direct kick on goal 35 seconds before halftime.

“Michael (Rogalski) is getting more confidence holding the ball, distributing it and moving the ball into space when he has the opportunity,” Ginter said.

Ginter also noted the play of forward Arkadiusz Szlachta in generating pressure on the Rams’ net.

“I look at a game like this and you naturally want to win,” Ginter said, “but I’m looking at how we can improve playing wise and we took another step forward today. We had a lot of possession and we’re working on switching fields.

“We noticed they were backing off on us a little bit, so the short passes were working for us.  We had a lot of good short pass combinations, and I thought our defense played well. We pressed and covered the midfield really well.”

Even the Rams’ late push didn’t mar a solid Willowbrook effort.

“We forced them a lot of times to make a pass they didn’t want to make, except at the very end we were a little bit lax with our coverage,” Ginter said. “I don’t know if it was tired legs or whatever, but overall I liked our effort and our desire to possess the ball. We weren’t always playing on our heels and playing defense. We want to take the ball into the opponents’ half and really make things happen, and I was pleased with that.”

The Warriors (1-6-2) have allowed just two goals in the last three games, going 1-0-2 to begin their climb from a slow start.

“I like it,” Perviz said. “We’re picking up momentum on the field, and we’ve got team chemistry going on. I think it helps that we’re together at all times now, like after school we all hang out. We’ve all kind of learned how to play together now. We’re starting to get the feel of it.”

More experience is also paying off for a young lineup. Cabral, Jones and Raymundo Alvarado were the only seniors on the field for extensive time on Thursday.

“We’re playing a 4-2-3-1 and trying to encourage even our outside defenders to move up,” Ginter said, “and for our midfielders to pass to our outside defenders and always have moving targets to pass to. I think they’re starting to understand that better, and confidence has a lot to do with it also.

“It’s not leaps and bounds but it’s little steps,” Ginter added. “We're progressing. I know our record isn’t very good, but right now I just want us to play good soccer, get better with every game and play our best at the end of the season in the playoffs. I can only see it getting better because I can see the confidence building.”

Ginter would like to see more scoring from his team, but Perviz has confidence in the Warriors’ offense and the whole team’s future.

“More wins are coming,” Perviz said. “I think we just need to switch the ball more – that’s all we need to work on."

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