Warriors fall to Hawks in regional, look to future
By Curt Herron
Bartlett picked a good day to have its most productive goal-scoring performance of the season.
In Saturday's play-in match of the Class 3A Conant Regional, the Hawks found the net often against Willowbrook.
Coach Ben Beary's squad scored twice in the first half and three times after the break to capture a 5-2 win at Millennium Field.
Igor Zwada, Justin Busch and Timmy Riordan paced the winners after each collected a goal and an assist.
Joey Butler and Andrew Gott also scored for the Hawks while Marcus Singleton also helped out on one of the goals.
Bartlett (5-12-3) had previously collected four goals in victories over Downers Grove North and St. Francis.
The Hawks have gone 5-4-2 since an 0-8-1 start and advance to Tuesday's 4:30 pm semifinals in Hoffman Estates.
That's where they'll take on Lake Park (16-2-3), which captured the DuPage Valley Conference title this season.
"We know that we'll have our work cut out for us in this next game," Beary said. "We're still trying to build some momentum so this is the kind of game that you'd like to have leading into a game like that.
"The five goals is our new high for the season so it's a little confidence boost that tells us that we're capable of doing it. We're just going to give our best effort against a real skilled opponent and see what happens."
Bartlett had managed just one goal apiece in losses to Batavia and Schaumburg so the productive outing was welcome.
Three of the goals came on free or corner kicks and another was a penalty which resulted from a foul in the box.
"At this point of the season it really comes down to details and the little things like knowing your role in a set piece and making sure that different spots get filled," Beary said. "And I think we saw that today.
"It's been a struggle all season, but we've managed to convert on a lot of our set pieces and that just goes to the composure that we've been able to maintain in those situations. We still need to shore up a few things but I'm happy with the overall result.
"We were hoping to get a clean sheet in the second half, but you have to hand it to Willowbrook because it never stopped battling. We lost composure for a 5-10 minute stretch about halfway through the second half and that's something that can't happen."
The Warriors (1-13-3) hoped to follow-up on their inspired loss on penalties to Downers Grove South in their previous match.
But the early 2-0 deficit and then two more quick scores early in the final half were simply too much to overcome.
While unhappy about the scores off of set pieces, Warriors coach Peter Ginter liked how his squad didn't give up.
That was evidenced when Tito Cabral's shot was deflected and Aaron Johnson put in the rebound in the final seconds.
"Our letdown today were the aerial balls in front of the goal," Ginter said. "They scored four out of their five goals that way. If we could have cleaned that up, it would have been a completely different game.
"It's just the little things, but we had a lot of young kids out on the field today. It was a great experience for them to play in an IHSA playoff game and it allowed me the opportunity to see how they play in certain situations.
"The positive part of our game today was that our guys didn't give up. We didn't totally collapse and came back and got those two goals. We always tell them that you have to play hard to the final whistle, no matter what the score is."
The Warriors made significant progress this season, despite the fact that they were only to collect one victory.
With so many players back from this squad, in addition to a successful sophomore group, the future looks promising.
"One of the things that we're definitely going to work on with the younger kids is making them stronger," Ginter said. "They're going to do weight programs so even though we might not be able to get them taller, we'll get them stronger."
Bartlett's Zane Kaiser and Willowbrook's Mike Rogalski had long tries before Singleton lined one off the hands of Asmir Perviz.
On the subsequent corner kick, Riordan put a ball into the box and Butler headed it in to put the hosts up in the ninth minute.
Prior to the half's midpoint, Cabral cleared a try by Zwada and Singleton had a free kick punched away by the Warrior keeper.
Perviz dove to stop a shot by Gott and hauled in a liner from Mike Parzy shortly after Singleton bounced one off the crossbar.
Willowbrok threatened a bit later when Johnson got free but keeper Jake Hasenstein came out of the net to make the deflection.
Bartlett grabbed a 2-0 lead in the 26th minute when Busch lined one off the keeper's hands and Zwada was there to put it in.
The Warriors looked to get narrow the gap but Cabral's long free kick was lined to Hasenstein to keep it 2-0 at the break.
"It was good that we were settling down with the ball and playing simple," Gott said. "We were playing hard and smart since we wanted to win this game. We worked hard for this, I'm glad that we got this win.
"We were struggling for awhile since we kept playing kick ball. But we learned to settle it down, switch the field and to play as a team. We're ready to see what we can do against Lake Park."
Early in the final half, Riordan sent a corner kick that bounced off of Parzy's head before getting stopped by the keeper.
The Hawks made it 3-0 in the 42nd minute when a Singleton's free kick was gathered in in front by Riordan, who connected.
In the 44th minute, a foul was called after A.J. Santori flicked a ball into the box and then Busch converted the penalty.
Shortly after a Rogalski free kick was headed away by Adam Jones, Andrew Nowak took over duties in goal for the Hawks.
Not long after a Gott header was thwarted on one end, Cabral got free and scored during the 55th minute on the other side.
A Zwada liner was halted and then Gott headed away a Rogalski corner kick shortly after the midway mark of the second half.
Down the stretch, Perviz dove to stop a Zwada try and then had to turn away dangerous efforts from Gott, Zwada and Santori.
The Hawks collected their final goal in the 78th minute when Zwada sent in a corner kick inside and Gott put in the header.
That's how things looked like they would finish before Cabral and Johnson applied some pressure prior to the final whistle.
While the Warriors won't easily replace three-year performers like Dylon Jones, Dan Torres and Cabral, things look bright.
Five sophomores and a three juniors were in the starting lineup on Saturday for Willowbrook, which is turning the corner.
"I really think that it's helped to have younger guys up here so that they can see what they'll have to improve on in all areas," Perviz said. "It was a great experience since I got to play against some of the best teams around.
"The guys on this team don't judge you on things but instead they stay afterward and help you improve. And I liked how we picked things up and everyone was getting to know each other better.
"Our team chemistry is building and we're going to be there by next year and I think that we're going to be a great team."