Youthful Cadets gain experience against Caravan
By Dave Owen
Marmion Academy put its focus on the future following Saturday’s 2-0 loss at Mount Carmel.
The trip to Chicago’s Hyde Park area provided a nonconference opportunity for the Cadets (3-5-1) to give extensive playing time to underclassmen, and a late first half score by the Caravan and a second half bad break were the only letdowns in an otherwise solid effort by the visitors.
“We gave a lot of young guys experience,” Marmion coach Ricky Del Toro said. “That was the main objective for today. It’s a nonconference game and we’re looking at this team next year for conference since we’re going into the Chicago Catholic League.
“We wanted to see what we had for next year, and I liked what I saw from our boys. Unfortunately the two goals went in, but young boys were out there at the end. We played with one senior in the back and everyone else was pretty young. We had three freshmen out there.”
Senior defender Mick Wangler provided the steady veteran influence in back that helped Marmion withstand Mount Carmel’s speedy offensive attack, as the Cadets tried to bounce back from a disappointing loss on penalty kicks to Marian Central Catholic on Thursday.
“I think we definitely came out with more intensity today,” Wangler said. “That (Marian Central) was kind of a wakeup call for us.
“They (Mount Carmel) had quick guys up top, and they were sending balls down the line that were hard to get to. But I thought we possessed more than them today and had the ball in their half more, so we definitely played better than in the Marian game. I think the biggest thing is our intensity. That was definitely better.”
Wangler played his usual key role in that area.
“I’m just trying to be the best leader I can be and get everybody pumped up,” Wangler said. “I try to be a leader on the field, telling everybody who’s marking who and trying to direct everything.”
“Defensively Mick, our captain, is very solid and consistent in the back and provides a lot of security, and we needed that today with all the young guys,” Del Toro said. “I’m very happy with Mick.
“We had a freshman (Quinn Gratz) on the left side,” Del Toro added, “and Joe Duffield is a sophomore who played all of last year in back as a freshman. Then on the right side we gave a freshman a chance until he got hurt and then a sophomore stepped in.”
Freshmen Nick Grant, Ricky Ruiz and Gratz all started or saw extensive time, along with sophomores Duffield, Tim Wheeler, Dolan Hunt, Conor Morton and Matt Fletcher (the Cadets’ goalkeeper).
Junior Gavin Sanchez provided a spark at the offensive end, especially early. His shot just over the net off a Michael Bila pass in the third minute of the match was the first scoring chance for either side.
“Gavin’s playing very well,” Del Toro said. “He’s going to be the leader next year. That will be his fourth year on varsity, so I’m expecting him to step up big time. He’s a little bit vocal out there, so I’m really happy with Gavin.”
After the Caravan’s Jaylen Anderson sent a shot off the post in the eighth minute, Marmion’s Duffield made two nice defensive plays midway through the half (a steal left of the net, followed by a blocked shot).
Cadets’ defender Luke DeSimone nicely stole a cross to the box in the 24th minute, then just missed a chance at the offensive end when chance in the box off a 25-yard Sanchez free kick went wide 13 minutes before halftime.
But in the 36th minute of play, a mad scramble at the top of the box was maddening for Marmion. Nikola Bosnjak corralled the loose ball and angled an 18-yard shot into the lower left corner of the net for a 1-0 Mount Carmel halftime lead.
The game’s second goal was pure fluke. The Caravan’s Daniel Balog broke in between three defenders to get a 12-yard shot off which Fletcher initially fielded, but the ball then slipped through the Marmion keeper’s usually-steady hands and into the net for a 2-0 Mount Carmel lead.
Fletcher had a recent streak of three shutout wins in a row.
“Just an unlucky play,” Wangler said.
Marmion’s chances in the offensive end during the second half began with Sean Dickerson’s shot wide of the net 13 minutes in, then Morton sent a shot just wide of the left post off a nice Sanchez offensive zone steal with the score 1-0 in the 21st minute of the half.
Down 2-0 with 12 minutes to go, the Cadets were denied on a great timing play. Off a Sanchez 25-yard free kick, Trevor Jones perfectly timed a run towards the crease to deflect the ball – only to be stopped by Mount Carmel’s goalkeeper in the right spot.
A Dolan Hunt header wide off a Sanchez corner kick with nine minutes left and a Landon Meyer shot on goal three minutes later marked Marmion’s last scoring chances of the game, as Mount Carmel largely limited the Cadets’ close-in threats.
“I just wish we had a few more chances up near our goal,” Del Toro said.
“I thought we possessed pretty well today,” Wangler said. “We’re really putting our young guys in trying to get them more experience, which is good. But I think we need to work on finishing. We’re getting the ball up there – we just couldn’t put them away.”
The Cadets had scored 11 goals in their last four games before Saturday.
“It’s very inconsistent,” Del Toro said. “We started off very rough losing to Plainfield East and tying West Chicago. We got two wins at Barrington, a nice win against St. Francis and then a bummer against Marian Central. Losing that game (3-2 on PK’s) was a morale killer. Then we have another loss here. So it’s up and down.”