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Coach: Mark Valintis
Assistant coach: Jim Rossetti
Alfredo Recendez So., GK
Marcin Machnik Sr., GK
Kevin Ziobro   Sr., M
Zlatomir Todorov Sr., M
Freddy Suarez Sr., D
Moises Merlos Sr., D
Kevin Flores Sr., M
Noe Centeno Sr., M
Joaquin Cardenas Sr., D
Tony Guzman Sr., M
Christian Hernandez Sr., M
Hector Arroyo Sr., M
Arturo Vidal Sr., F
Elvis Castaneda Jr., D
Yonatan Abarca Sr., D
Diego Lorenzana Sr., F
Christian Rodriguez Sr., F
Hector Herrera Jr., D
David Senk So., M
Dario Salgado Sr., M
Christian Rubio So., D
Cesar Franco So., D
Jaime Gamino Sr., F
Albert Arabik So., F

Eagles overcome adversity to post win over Bison


By Bill Hupp

After he saw his team miss a penalty kick and go down a man with more than 18 minutes left to play in the game, Leyden Coach Mark Valintis feared the worst.

He had seen his team battle hard before and do a lot of good things, only to be unlucky and fall short in the end.

“Going a man down with 20 minutes left, I didn’t think we’d find a way to do it,” Valintis said. “A week or two ago, there’s no chance we win this game. So, I think we’re starting to turn a corner.”

But this time was different. The Eagles got a late goal from senior Christian Hernandez and defended ferociously over the final four minutes to earn a hard-fought 1-0 win over Fenton in Bensenville.

“We felt we were the more superior team, but it’s soccer,” Hernandez said. “We’re playing well and gaining confidence.”

Coming into the game, Valintis felt good about how his team had played of late, even if their record (2-4-1) was reflective of the very difficult non-conference schedule they had played.

The contest ebbed and flowed in the first half, with Leyden looking more dangerous as they sent long balls ahead for big sophomore striker Albert Arabik to run onto.

Leyden had a goal disallowed in the first half when Hernandez was whistled offside following a corner kick.

Fenton missed an excellent chance when speedy striker David Ortega eluded keeper Alfredo Recendez at the top of the box, but was forced wide in the process and his chip to the back post didn’t connect with any Bison heads.

The intensity picked up in the second half and the game was open as the evenness of contest was borne out in the final stats - shots (13-12 Leyden), fouls (11-9 Fenton) and saves (10-8 Leyden).

Leyden scored the game-winner with just 3:50 left to play. Arabik flicked a throw-in toward the top of the box with his head, where Kevin Flores poked it across to a streaking Hernandez on the left wing.

The senior midfielder took a touch to gather himself, then fired a shot through the goalie’s legs and into the back of net.

Originally, it looked like the Eagles would take a lead with 18:51 to play in the game. The ref gave a penalty to the Eagles after David Senk went down in the box after a free kick.

The sophomore midfielder stepped up to the spot and hit a laser that caromed off the bottom of the crossbar, but stayed out. Arabik’s follow-up header went over.

“That was how our season has gone for the most part,” Valintis said. “We work so hard, we get so close and then something prevents the ball from going in – today it was the goal post.

“Last week, we would have put our heads down and given up. And somehow, we didn’t today. The ball bounced our way and I’ll take it.”

About 30 seconds later, captain Tony Guzman drew a red card. Still, Leyden continued attacking with Arabik, who is their leading scorer and led the team with 15 goals as a freshman last season.

Arabik towered over the competition at 6-foot-2, held the ball up nicely and was a constant threat on the Fenton goal.

Twice, he made 40-50 yard forays with the ball, fending off challenges and deftly dribbling around defenders to pepper the Bison keeper with tight-angle blasts.

“For his size and speed, his foot skill with the ball draws so much attention,” Valintis said. “He’s a difference-maker and he’s one of those players that can take a good team and make them great.”

As they have the past few games, Recendez (first half) and Marcin Machnik (second) split time in net and helped the Eagles earn a second straight shutout.

They got plenty of help from a stout backline of Guzman, Hector Herrera, Freddy Suarez and Moises Merlos, who took turns marking Fenton’s dangerous and speedy striker, David Ortega.

“Both guys are playing well,” Valintis said. “Now that we’ve solidified some things and got into a rotation, we’re coming together back there and it’s nice to see.”


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