Tigers bounce back with victory over Raiders
By Bill Stone
Plainfield North senior center midfielder Tyler Petprachan had a tough game offensively against Bolingbrook on Wednesday.
He could have easily had two goals and an assist if not for an unforgiving post and some great defense.
“I had a couple of shots,” Petprachan said. “I just couldn’t find the back of the net. Just keep shooting, I guess.”
Petprachan could face the frustration with a smile. It’s been a great season so far as part of a large senior class, and the Tigers continued it with a 4-1 nonconference victory at home.
Plainfield North (6-1-1) jumped to a 2-0 lead with 26:56 left in the first half and had a two-goal advantage the rest of the way.
Sophomore Austin Hansen had two goals, senior Matt Farley had a goal and an assist and senior Logan Wright had two assists. Sophomore Austin Collier also scored with an assist from senior Garrett Gathman.
With 10 seniors on their roster, the Tigers already are two victories away from equaling their victory total of 2012.
“We all started out really young on a PSA (Plainfield Soccer Association) team and we’ve all grown up together, just playing. We’re a pretty close-knit group so it was pretty anticipated that we could do pretty well (this season),” Farley said.
“We were all anxious to get on the field and play, knowing that we were going to do pretty well. And it’s looking good for the next couple of years.”
The victory was among the sweetest so far, especially after the fresh bitter taste of the team’s first loss of the season on Tuesday, 2-0 to Glenbard South.
North coach Jim O’Hara felt his team had an uncharacteristically subpar first half and fell behind 1-0. Despite dominating the second half, the Tigers could not rally and the Raiders scored again with their only shot.
“Give (Glenbard South) credit, they played well, but I think, more importantly, after a tough game yesterday, our first loss of the season, how were we going to bounce back? How were we going to react to it?” O’Hara said.
“I think we reacted really, really well so I was really pleased with it, especially (against Bolingbrook). They’re a very, very good program. To beat them, it’s an achievement for sure.”
The Tigers nearly jumped on Bolingbrook (3-4) less than two minutes into the match, but Petprachan’s free kick from the center of the field from 25 yards out went off the left post and junior Jordan Schure put the rebound over the goal.
Farley scored with 33:45 left in the half before Hansen notched his first tally of the night for the quick lead.
“We just needed not to have a mental lapse again and come out hard. We knew we messed up last night so we didn’t want to do it again,” Farley said.
Last season, North and Bolingbrook tied during the regular season before the Tigers prevailed 3-0 for their first postseason victory in program history.
In the opening minute Wednesday, the Raiders’ Hugo Lopez got control of a deflected ball and blasted wide of the goal, but after that, the first few minutes belonged to the Tigers.
“Basically, we just played with a chip on our shoulder (from our loss). We knew right from the start that we had to go hard,” Petprachan said.
“We know (Bolingbrook’s) program pretty well. We played them two times last year. We were familiar with their style of play and we just came out tonight and just knew we needed to score first and that’s what we did.”
Except for Tuesday, scoring has been one of North’s strengths. The Tigers already have 28 goals after scoring just 34 all of last season.
Wright, who led the team in 2012 with nine goals, already has a team-best eight so far, and that’s without adding to that total Wednesday, although he still had a hand in three scores.
He nearly scored off a corner kick by Petprachan early in the second half, but a defender against the post thwarted the shot.
Even with the senior-heavy lineup, Farley was the only senior to score, collecting his third of the season. The other three goals came from sophomores. Hansen and Collier now have six and five goals, respectively.
“It’s one of those (large, talented) classes so you knew when they became seniors it was going to be some exciting times, and they’ve definitely shown it,” O’Hara said. “We also have a good mixture of some younger talent (3 freshmen and 4 sophomores).
“Three or four of them have played varsity since sophomore year, but in general it’s one of those classes that you look forward to. You know when they’re seniors, it’s like, ‘These kids have been playing together.’ Their dads know each other because they’ve been coaching together.”
The Tigers have a knack for finding each other one way or another.
When Collier dribbled down the right wing, he crossed to Wright, whose shot in the crease was deflected. The ball took a spin out to an unmarked Farley on the left post, who deposited the ball into the opposite corner for a 1-0 lead.
“I think it was from the deflection so it just came right towards me. The defender wasn’t expecting it,” Farley said.
The second goal also was initiated by a right-wing cross, this one by Petprachan. The ball just missed a leaping Collier and found Farley on the left side. When Farley put the ball back into the crease, a sliding Hansen tucked the ball into the right corner.
What looked like what was going to be an easy victory suddenly became difficult.
The deficit seemed to spark the Raiders, who began an offensive barrage over the next 10 minutes.
“Two-goal leads – I think any coach says it’s kind of a tricky lead,” O’Hara said. “If they score, all of a sudden it’s 2-1 and the momentum’s on their side. If we score the next goal, now it’s 3-0 and it’s a pretty big gap.”
Freshman goalie Jake Farley and the defensive line of starters Gathman, junior Travis Foust, seniors Christian Esparza and Jake Novacek and senior reserve Sam Puglisi were up to the challenge.
With 18 minutes left in the half, the Raiders’ Frimpong Sintim got free on right wing, but Foust blocked the shot. Two minutes later, Lopez was unable to get a breakaway, but he stopped and regained control of the ball and took a shot that forced Cade Fink to make his first big save of the night.
The ensuing corner kick was even more dangerous, but sophomore Alex Lynch on the near post prevented the ball from sneaking in.
Only seconds after Fink scrambled to snuff out a cross to Lopez, the Tigers counterattacked. Gathman delivered a long lead ball out toward the 25. Collier outraced Bolingbrook goalie Gilbran Garcia to the ball and easily scored for a 3-0 advantage 11:11 before halftime.
“Today, we finished our opportunities,” O’Hara said. “It was as simple as going out there and making plays and they made plays.”
Bolingbrook kept coming and scored with 32:18 left when Gael Terrazes controlled a lead pass and found Sintim open on left wing.
Sintim nearly struck again 10 minutes, but Fink made a great leg save. Again, the Tigers responded almost immediately.
Within a minute, they were on the offensive again. Hansen took a pass from Wright just above the center of the box, turned and fired a beautiful shot into the upper-left part of the net.
“I’m very proud of him. He works hard,” O’Hara said. “He gets his goals from pure effort. That was just pure off his skill, off his right foot.
“They were getting a couple of opportunities. That one kind of sealed the deal so it was a huge, huge shot.”
The final minutes still were tense. Petprachan looked to add insurance with nine minutes left, but his 25-yard blast was thwarted by Garcia’s diving save. The Raiders nearly scored twice in the final 6 1/2 minutes, but Novacek eventually prevented the chances and cleared the ball.
After the victory, the Tigers worked together one more time. They joined Foust in going across the field as he asked his girlfriend to the homecoming dance. She said yes.
“With a lot of seniors, we have a lot of leadership,” Petprachan said. “We’re stepping up for the underclassmen and they’re learning from us and hopefully next year they’re going to follow in our steps.”