Hornets show progress following rough defeat
By Dave Owen
Downers Grove North appears to be back on track while Hinsdale South is taking measures to get there.
After an 0-3-2 start in which they allowed 20 goals in five matches, the Trojans notched their second shutout in a row Thursday with a 2-0 win at Hinsdale South.
The Hornets (0-5-1) had their own moral victory of sorts, bouncing back from a 9-0 loss Tuesday at Leyden with a solid performance from a revamped lineup.
“We pretty much wanted to start anew,” Hinsdale South coach James VanDenburgh said. “We just got beat by Leyden 9-0, so we were looking for our guys to come out and show a little resiliency. We brought up some guys (four) from the sophomore squad that did a good job of filling in.”
The Trojans (2-3-2) have quickly filled in any early season weaknesses, particularly on the defensive line.
“We’ve had two shutouts in a row now and we’re getting a little bit of confidence,” DGN coach Brian Gervase said. “This last couple games is the first time that we’ve had the back four that we feel is our best group playing together.
“We’re young, so it’s taken us a few games to learn the defense and learn where everyone belongs in positioning.”
One of the Trojans’ young defenders also came up big at the offensive end of the field.
Off a corner kick by sophomore Sam Crowley with 2:36 left in the first half, junior Brett Pyburn was on the spot when the floating Crowley cross deflected off the hands of Hinsdale South goalkeeper Jose Moreno. Pyburn’s 6-yard putaway gave the Trojans a 1-0 lead they never relinquished.
“The ball was kicked and I thought the goalie was going to grab the ball, so I was kind of waiting for a rebound maybe,” Pyburn said about his first goal of 2013. “It ended up popping out to me, and I took a touch and shot it.”
The Trojans had the majority of chances in the half and match, but Downers North goalkeeper Ray Greco had to come up big on two great Hinsdale South scoring threats.
Greco’s best save came with 14:30 left in the first half – off a Nathaniel Michaelis corner kick, Giancarlo Cianelli fielded a clearing attempt and launched a 12-yard rocket that Greco lunged to deflect with a one-handed save.
“Ray is super athletic,” Pyburn said. “It’s nice to have that in goal.”
“Giancarlo came in left foot volley off a cross and just struck it perfectly,” VanDenburgh said. “Those feel good, but unfortunately for us the keeper was in the right position at the right time. They had some opportunities, we had some opportunities, and they put theirs away and we did not.”
Greco later dove to get a fingertip on Michaelis’ potential game-tying 28-yard laser which went inches wide of the right post with 23:15 left in the match.
Outside of those breakthroughs, Downers North’s line of defenders led by Pyburn, Jake Maurer, Tony Zea and sophomore Carter Tome limited the threats.
“Our defense, particularly Brett and Jake Maurer, our two center backs, stepped up and made sure that they couldn’t get anything started very well,” Gervase said. “I don’t think they had many good opportunities on goal, and that starts with the center backs.”
“Me and Maurer were just trying to stay back and trying not to screw anything up.,” Pyburn said. “Step up when we have to and try not to make any fancy touches or anything, because if we do they’re going to score.
“We had really good control,” Pyburn added. “Jake in the middle spread the field and switched the field a lot. That kept them (Hinsdale South) running and I think that tired them out.”
Other Trojans played their own major role of containing the Hornets.
“I think our center mids are playing well,”Gervase said. “Liam Budnik, our sophomore center mid, is playing well, and we have a freshman we just brought up in Ethan Akkawi, who had some good touches on the ball.
“Andrew Zea has been strong, and Ray our goalie had a couple really nice saves to keep us in the game. We don’t discount that.”
Even without injured forward Dan Lott, the Trojans’ offense is picking up.
“We’ve been practicing a lot on our offensive formation and how to make runs and stuff,” Pyburn said. “Our first couple of games we were kind of just running all over the place. Andrew (Zea) has done a really good job holding on to the ball and distributing it to the wings going forward.”
Junior Trace Dimos was the Trojans’ final hero of the night, beginning with his block of a 35-yard Michaelis direct kick with 3:40 left.
In the final minute, Dimos first cleared away Michaelis’ corner kick with 35 seconds left. He then dashed upfield, beat Hornet goalkeeper Moreno to a loose ball just inside midfield and raced in for an empty net goal and a 2-0 lead with one second on the clock.
That produced a deceiving final score to a solid effort by the Hinsdale South defense.
Junior Lucas Carlson was especially impressive in the second half, starting with two nice clears of threats in the box during the first seven minutes.
He later made a nice block and steal of Dimos’ shot attempt right of the goal, then denied Budnik’s dribble attack into the box with 4:50 left.
“Nathaniel (Michaelis) always plays well,” VanDenburgh said, “and Giancarlo Cianelli usually sweeps but we’ve tried him at center mid and we really like the way he pushes the ball up.
“Lucas Carlson filled in as sweeper and did a good job back there. Right up the middle we had some good play, and the young guys gave us some good minutes.”
Mike Noble, Zach Duffy, Jose Martinez and Dino Vessol all contributed in their varsity debuts, with Noble producing two first half scoring chances.
Noble broke free down the middle off a nice pass from Michaelis 7:30 before the break, but sent his shot wide of the right post. Later, Noble’s pass set up a Vessol shot on goal.
Cianelli and Carlson each sent shots over the net off of Michaelis second half corner kicks. Dylan Sarocco and Griffin Karpeck also tested Greco with shots, and Sarocco’s attack on net in the final minute set up a corner kick.
In all, there was fast progress for the Hornets.
“We’re almost at square one again, seeing what pieces are working and where they’re working,” VanDenburgh said. “From that standpoint, we saw some positive things that we want to build on.
“I thought there was some good combination play at times, but it’s that final third and putting it away that’s giving us problems.”
Just three goals scored in six games is frustrating proof of that, but the Hornets are showing no signs of quit.
“The guys are still pushing forward to try and stay focused,” VanDenburgh said. “That’s nice to see. Part of it is mental, and they’re mentally strong. It’s just that they have to get physically stronger.
“We don’t have an easy schedule coming up, so we’re looking at these next few games to show us what direction we’re going to take for the final part of the season. No one’s panicking. The guys are resilient enough to want to get out there in practices and games and win. That’s nice to see.
“Our guys are hungry,” VanDenburgh added, “ but DGN did a good job of being hungrier today.”