Von Holt's bender earns tie vs. BG
By Eric Van Dril
Buffalo Grove and Fremd entered their match on Tuesday evening with a whopping five draws apiece on the season and, after playing to a 1-1 draw at the end of a pair of 10-minute overtime periods, they both saw their totals balloon to six.
Buffalo Grove coach Rick Carlson said the number of ties has been a point of frustration for the Bison players as the season has progressed, but both teams were able to take positives away from the result on Tuesday evening.
Buffalo Grove opened the match's scoring with 27:44 remaining in the second half when senior defender Daniel Ramirez scored on a rebound off of a corner kick. Fremd, who was able to produce better opportunities throughout the match, picked up its intensity and continued to push for a goal after that.
The Vikings found the equalizer with 6:40 remaining in the second half when senior Brock Von Holt hit a wicked bender of a shot.
“After going down 1-0? Thrilled,” Fremd coach Steve Keller said, when asked if he was happy with a draw.
“For us, it was one of the more productive games offensively we've had, in terms of number of shots, number of corners, number of deep throw-ins. But we've got nothing to show for it. I thought, in the second half, that (the Bison) came out and, just in putting myself in a spectator view, they looked like they were more hungry than we were. That was the difference in the second half, in terms of them going up on the goal. But they had a little resiliency. We're fortunate Brock got a nice opportunity and made it count. We certainly created opportunities in overtime, but, again, we didn't capitalize.”
Fremd had 11 corners in the match to Buffalo Grove's two, and the Vikings sent significantly more long throw-ins into the box than the Bison. They also exploited gaps in the defense and found space in dangerous areas right outside of Buffalo Grove's 18-yard box.
They couldn't put shots on frame, however. Fremd (6-6-6, 5-2-3 MSL) rifled 23 shots, and just seven were on target.
“I think we battled really hard and we should have won,” said Fremd junior forward Zach Schoffstall, who takes the vast majority of the team's long throw-ins and corner kicks. “In the end, with our possession and our domination in the first half, we just needed to finish.”
“I think that (putting it on frame)” is one of the keys to finishing, Keller added. “Yeah, many of our shots were high, wide. We just need to focus a little better and I think they guys need to relax a little bit and concentrate a little more when they shoot it.”
Another aspect to the Vikings' inability to finish all but one of their bevy of opportunities on Tuesday was the play of Buffalo Grove's defense.
Ramirez, sophomore Ryan Drum, senior Allan Santiaguillo, and senior goalkeeper Ricardo Valencia also proved to be up to the challenge, and sophomore Hans Heller played very well in his role as defensive midfielder.
That group of five players played almost the entire 100-minute match in their same roles, and they spent much of that time worrying about Schoffstall.
“We shut down Schoffstall, who's probably their best player on the team,” Ramirez said. “We had to play really tight on him, not let him turn and whenever someone else had the ball, we had to watch where he was running so they couldn't slip it through to him. He was just all over the field, making runs. We just had to keep an eye on him the entire game.”
Schoffstall was one of the most likely candidates to score for Fremd, but Von Holt appeared to be one of the more unlikely at the start of the match. Von Holt is slowly coming back from a hamstring injury. He played about half of the match's 100 minutes – he played 10 minutes in the first half – moving from defense to midfield to forward.
Von Holt was playing forward when he provided Fremd with its equalizer with 6:40 remaining in regulation. The senior found the ball at his feet about five yards beyond the top of the box and unleashed a wicked shot with his right foot.
“That kid hit a ridiculous shot,” Carlson said. “That thing must have bent five feet. (It was) a huge bender. Our keeper was over here, and I couldn't believe he even got a hand on it. It was a great shot.”
Von Holt's strike was followed by a scoreless overtime period, yet Ramirez was happy with the way his team performed.
“His shot, that was a really good shot,” Ramirez said. “I guess I am happy (with a tie) because we played good... We did good controlling the ball. We were moving it good, we were switching the field good. We were doing everything we practiced.”
One of the things the Bison (3-6-6) have focused on in the last week has been their corner kicks. Their practice paid off near the beginning of the second half when junior midfielder Mike Kotlyar sent a right-footed corner into the box toward the far post.
Sophomore Drew Brauner redirected the ball toward the goal, but Fremd goalkeeper Will LeFevre saved the shot. Ramirez was right next to Brauner, however, and he was able to beat the junior with a well-placed shot for his second goal of the season.
“We focus on (corners),” Carlson said. “We get to the end here with the playoffs, and we understand that every possession is so important, and we really focus on that as the year goes on more and more, especially going into the playoffs. We want to make sure we're running our plays as tight as can be and yeah, that (corner play) is something we put in over the last few weeks.”
The Bison have struggled to produce goals all season, but Tuesday's match unfolded differently. They were able to increase their work rate at the start of the second half – despite all of the ties, Carlson said his team continues to play hard all of the time – and see it pay off with a goal.
Scoring first “was a huge morale boost,” Ramirez said. “So many games we start off and we're behind, then we have to work back. Then once we score one more, then we're stuck there for a tie. This game, we had a lead right away. We had a huge morale boost, and we kept going from there.”
Buffalo Grove continued to play well from that point forward, but wasn't able to test LeFevre with any shots on goal in the remainder of regulation and either overtime period. Fremd's midfielders did a good job in thwarting the Bison attacks before they reached a dangerous point on the field, and its defense of senior Jon Smith and juniors Ben Borst, Tomas Peleckas and Luke Kosacz also played very well.
Both squads figure to be difficult outs in the postseason, given their direct, defensive nature and their ability to stay steady as the pressure mounts late in matches. That's especially the case for Buffalo Grove, which moved Ramirez to defense after losing 5-0 to Rolling Meadows in the attempt to solidify its backline.
“The reality is we've gotten blown out in two games, but outside of those two games, we've played 13 games that we could have won – that we had enough chances to win,” Carlson said. “I keep hammering that home. We've got to keep positive. Of course they're frustrated (with so many ties). We've only won three times, but out of our 15 games, we've only lost six. You've just got to pull positives away from that stuff.”