Hawks rely on defense to claim win over Spartans
By Seth Hancock
Through a season of highs and lows, which admittedly have seen more lows, Bartlett has been seeking a complete team effort.
Although it took a little while, the Hawks got that in a 4-0 win over St. Francis in nonconference play on Thursday night at Millennium Field in Streamwood.
While the scoring onslaught, which saw one goal in the first half and three in the second, was a welcome sight for the Hawks (4-10-3), the play of the defense was the key.
The Hawks were without starting defender Andrew Gott, and they had a sophomore in Jake Hasentein making his varsity debut in front of the net. Hasentein had two saves in the first half and Andrew Nowak played the second half and also had two saves.
“I’m really happy about that,” Hawks’ coach Ben Beary said about the defense. “Adam Jones has gotten better and better every single game playing that center back position, and Christian Valle and Zane Kaiser were just lights out.
“They’re winning 50-50 balls. They’re not making some of the mistakes that they were making in the beginning of the season. They’re not diving in for balls and they’re containing. They’re working as a unit which is the key to their success and this was their second shutout of the season.
“Defensive game today for us, hats off to them. What we did today offensively started with them getting the ball in the back, possessing the ball a little bit, trying to draw St. Francis out of their zones and then attacking. Everything we did started in the back: with the shutout, with the possession and then sending the ball back up. Hats off to those three. They did a good job.”
Early on, Igor Zwada had some solid chances for the Hawks and Colin Sharf had a shot on goal off a nice feed from Keenan Corrigan for the Spartans (5-9-2).
However, the turning point came in the final minute of the first half when Mike Parzy scored his first of two goals in the game with 10.4 seconds left on the clock. That goal was setup by a nice play from Marcus Singleton for a 1-0 Bartlett lead heading into the break.
The Hawks had controlled the pace of the game throughout, but that goal seemed to spark something in the offense.
“I think that gave us a little base to grow on in the second half, and I think it really helped us,” Parzy said. “It helped us realize that ‘wow, we can really beat this team. We should be doing a lot better than we are right now.’
“I think it was one of those games where we finally were all on the same page and we all worked together. It was about time we started scoring more because our defense and midfield have been working so hard to get us the ball up there. It’s good to actually get some goals on the board.”
For St. Francis coach Kristin Keigley, that goal was a tough pill to swallow after her defense held Bartlett scoreless through many scoring chances.
Keigley said her team was without four players because of injuries and several starters had to rest to start the second half.
“It just kind of deflated us, and all of the sudden we stopped moving,” Keigley said. “During halftime, some of the aches and pains started creeping up and I had five starters sit out the beginning of the second half.
“It does a lot mentally as well as physically having that happen 11 seconds before the end of the half.”
AJ Santori scored from the top of the box off a Zwada assist in the 49th minute and an Oliver Saile corner kick was headed in by Parzy with 10:16 left to play for a 3-0 lead.
Some nice moves from Justin Busch helped him score the game’s final goal with 8:30 on the clock.
Beary said Singleton and Miguel Ceballos working the right side of the field helped create more chances and more set pieces. The Hawks had five corner kicks in the game, four coming in the second half.
The Hawks struggles to finish in the first half Beary attributed to the St. Francis defense of Nick Roehl, Ian Hart, David Johnson and Timmy Pisarski.
“It just took us a good 65 minutes to figure that out, but it was good to see for our guys,” Beary said. “It was a good challenge for them. It was a strong defense that there was no individual on our team that could beat them by their self. We had to put some passes together and combinations together as a team, and I think they worked through it.”
Santori had seven shots on goal in the game, and Zwada had six total shots for the Hawks. The score could have been worse if not for the play of Spartans’ goalkeeper Jonathan Burke who made several diving stops and finished with 15 saves.
Joe Pagliuco, Jose Zepeda, Roehl and Sharf had several strong attacks for St. Francis.
Both teams have two regular season games left before entering the postseason, which begins next weekend.
“What we like to do, and what I’ve done rather consistently throughout my nine years as being a head coach, is once seeding is over with you have time to experiment,” Keigley said. “Really, your record doesn’t mean too much after seeding is done, so now we get to experiment putting people in new positions and trying out new formations.
“Really, it’s us seeing if maybe we can find something else to get going now that the season is drawing down a little bit.”
For the Hawks, they hope to keep the winning attitude. Bartlett did not earn a win until its 10th game, and the Hawks went winless in four straight games heading into this match.
“The entire season, I think we’ve grown,” Parzy said. “It started somewhat bad in the beginning, but we just kept escalating and getting better and better. We’re finally getting to the point where we’re all working together, and I think we’ve got a pretty good chance against Willowbrook. We’ll do pretty fine in the playoffs.”