Hersey strikes twice in second half vs. Bison
By Gary Larsen
In Buffalo Grove coach Rick Carlson’s eyes, Hersey had one primary advantage in the Huskies’ 2-0 win over his Bison on Thursday.
"They've got a kid that can finish, he's a good player, and that's the difference in the game," Carlson said. "I don't know that outside of (Cappuccitti), we felt a whole lot of pressure from too many other kids tonight.”
Cappuccitti netted his 18th goal of the season and Charlie Davenport added a goal for the Huskies, who improved to 12-3-3 overall and 8-2-1 in MSL play. Hersey was locked in a scoreless draw with Buffalo Grove (3-7-6, 1-5-4) until the game’s 56th minute, when a BG clearance fell to Cappuccitti’s feet, and the speedy senior blistered it inside the post from 22 yards out.
Davenport’s goal came 5 minutes later on a feed from Mike Kaczor, and Hersey put a Buffalo Grove team that has struggled to find goals in a tough spot.
"They're fighters and they don't give up many goals," Hersey senior Alex Mueller said of BG. "I think they've been in (5) overtime games this season and most of them have been 0-0, so we wanted to try to score and take them out of their game. We know they're not used to being scored on and if we could get one in, they'd feel uncomfortable."
Through 40 minutes, it was nearly the host Huskies that found discomfort. Play was fairly even through 20 minutes but Buffalo Grove had more of the ball throughout the game’s second 20 minutes.
Twice, Bison midfielder Zach Masciopinto busted behind the Hersey backline after a through-ball, with Hersey keeper Cristian Carranza charging off his line and sliding to deflect Masciopinto’s shot at 28 minutes, and racing out to beat Masciopinto to a second through-ball at 39 minutes.
The Bison made another attacking surge late in the contest but Carranza, Mueller, Campbell White, Jordan Rustmeyer, and Michael Freda stood up to the pressure to earn the shutout.
“Cristian has been really good and he came out well tonight,” Hersey coach Darren Llewellyn said. "They created chances and if they would have scored early, I would have been afraid. Even late in the game, if they had scored, you would have seen their intensity rise while our guys would have been backing up."
Buffalo Grove has scored 12 goals and given up 22 in 16 games this season. Keeper Ricardo Valencia made a fine point-blank save on an Alex Filian shot in the first half and defenders Allan Santiaguillo, Hans Haller, Daniel Ramirez, Sean King, and Ryan Drum have all contributed to a team that hasn’t given up too many goals this year.
"That was a big save (by Valencia) and he has played well, Daniel (Ramirez) continues to put pressure on from the back, and Allan (Santiaguillo) and Hans (Haller) continue to play well," Carlson said. "And Ryan Drum in the back is finally healthy, so he's playing a bigger role -- but I like all my guys. I'd take all my guys to battle, every day.
"They're a good team. When I look at some of the other teams that we've played tight with, I'm as impressed with these guys and with (Cappuccitti) as I am with any other kids I've seen."
Central defender and captain Santiaguillo has been in the thick of things all season for the Bison.
“Coming into the year we knew we wouldn't be as strong offensively so we knew we had to pick it up in back," Santiaguillo said. “But the (state playoffs) are a fresh start so we've just got to work hard in practice and keep our spirits up. I know it's been a hard season but anything can happen in the playoffs."
After BG’s strong attacking surge in the first half, Hersey came out strong after the break. Connor Reynolds sent in a trio of dangerous throws to start the second half, and Cappuccitti’s goal was set up by a Reynolds throw that BG initially headed out.
”When we possess the ball, we're a good team," Llewellyn said. "In the second half we changed our rotation, our runs, and where we play the ball, and I switched Connor (Reynolds) to the middle and put Charlie (Davenport) up top. Connor and Mueller held up really well, and in the second half we came out and started attacking the wings because that's what they were giving us."
Cappuccitti put a handful of shots on and off frame, including a wicked blast from distance that banged off the post in the game’s 69th minute. The senior striker’s burst of speed combined with his technical ability make him persistently dangerous, and his coach would like to see him use that burst to even better effect with the postseason now looming.
“He's so fast, and if he would take a step and push it by, he'd create space and might even be able to go straight in,” Llewellyn said of Cappuccitti. “I'd like him to take games over sometimes with some of the one-vee-one opportunities het gets. Go at them, they'll start back-pedaling and they'll have to absorb, and now your space is open for you to set up a shot."
The Huskies’ second goal came on a nice feed from Kaczor, who had a ball at his feet deep on the right side of BG’s penalty area before sending a ball laterally and behind him out to Davenport, who finished from just inside the top of the box.
The Bison fought hard for a goal through the game’s final 10 minutes but Carranza and White and his backline kept the sheet clean for Hersey.
"Campbell White is just good," Llewellyn said. "Without Campbell there, we wouldn't have the team that we have. I've opened it up a little bit this year where I'm letting them run more, and not play as much defense, and that's because of Campbell. He reads the game so well. (Carranza) has gotten more stable (in net), which has made it a lot easier, and (Rustmeyer), in terms of one-vee-one these last few games, has been unreal.
“And I always like how Mueller wins the ball," Llewellyn said. "He just wins it. He anticipates well, he wins the ball out of the air -- against Barrington he won so many balls, I can't even tell you."
The Bison host Wheeling Friday before playing their MSL crossover game on Tuesday. Seeded 15th in this year’s Class 3A Mundelein Sectional, BG opens regional play against No. 18 Zion-Benton on Oct. 18 for a chance to face No. 2 Warren in a regional semifinal game, hosted by Palatine.
"We did some nice things and we continue to battle, but we came up short, which is unfortunate because the kids are playing hard,” Carlson said. “Now we're waiting for the state playoffs and we're hoping to make a little noise.”
Fourth-seeded Hersey opens regional play against No. 13 Highland Park on Oct. 23, for a chance to play the winner between No. 5 Lake Forest and No. 12 Lake Zurich.
"It's been a great year,” Mueller said. “We weren't expected to do much this year but knew we were a good team coming in. We have a lot of seniors so we knew we had an experienced squad. And we had a few additions, like (Connor) Reynolds and (Mike) Kaczor. We knew we could go far but I don't think it was expected around the league."