Worwa works OT to lead Hersey over RM Wilcox sets program assists mark in 2-1 Mid-Suburban win
By Bill McLean
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS — The busiest soccer player in Illinois must be Eric Worwa.
The Hersey senior forward works weekday mornings at his construction job, then heads to school, then either attends soccer practice or battles in a soccer game and then, finally, toils as a porter at a car dealership.
Somewhere in that packed schedule he shoehorns a block of time to eat, sleep and do homework.
Tuesday night, in the Huskies’ home opener against visiting Rolling Meadows in crisp conditions, Worwa found himself once again in the thick of the action, scoring both of his club’s goals in a 2-1 overtime victory at Roland R. Goins Stadium.
He struck the second tally — a golden goal — in the 96th minute for the 14th-ranked team in Chicagoland Soccer’s Top 25.
The number on Worwa’s jersey?
No. 2, quite fittingly.
“Eric,” Hersey coach Michael Rusniak said, “loves to compete.”
So does Huskies senior midfielder and co-captain Ronan Wilcox, the best booter on the pitch in a highly competitive Mid-Suburban League East Division match that was scoreless at the half. Sporting a game face that was stuck on dead-serious mode from the kickoff to the clincher, Wilcox delivered both assists to Worwa; the second established a new program mark for career helpers at 31.
Wilcox sprinted down the sideline near the teams’ benches to set up his first assist of the night. His dandy right-footed cross landed near Worwa, who humbly claimed he was, “in the right place at the right time in the 75th minute.
“Ronan,” Worwa added, “kept running down the line, saw an opening and got the ball through to me. Back post. I was there to finish.”
Wilcox’s short, well-placed service to a determined Worwa later helped the hosts end the contest, suddenly, midway through the second 10-minute OT session.
“‘Ro’ is a load,” RM coach Brett Olson praised. “He gets free; he makes plays. Great players make things happen, and he’s definitely that kind of player.”
With time ramping down and the pressure ramping up, Rolling Meadows (2-1-0) needed only two minutes, 25 seconds to answer the first Wilcox-Worwa connection. Mustangs senior midfielder Kamil Oleksy’s corner kick found senior forward Arnulfo Mora, who jumped above a cluster of foes and mates and used the back of his head to flick the ball past winning goalkeeper Reese Delahanty.
“I have a big, big amount of respect for Rolling Meadows,” Rusniak said after his boys of winter (soon-to-be spring) improved to 3-0-0. “That team’s players came out and battled. Coach Olson does a great job.
“This being our home-opener, it was emotional, especially for our seniors,” the coach added. “They wanted to make the most of the situation. Tonight, it was a good marker to find out who we are as a group.”
Rusniak implored his Huskies to show some more life early, barking, “Energy, energy, energy!” Minutes later Hersey lined up for three corner kicks in a 90-second-or-so span. Huskies senior forward and co-captain Patryk Bujak engineered one of his side’s best scoring chances in the first half, blasting a shot on goal after a breakaway in the 29th minute.
Mustangs senior keeper Pablo Zarate got a mitt on the Bujak bullet, deflecting the ball out of bounds. Zarate made another save in the next minute, this time grabbing a high shot.
The first half also featured the marquee matchup of Wilcox and RM standout defender Ryan Stubitsch vying for control of the ball at times.
The second half?
Hersey played more of a caffeinated brand of soccer.
“We needed to apply better pressure in the second half,” Worwa said. “Once we did that we started waking up.”
“Hersey is such a good team,” Olson said. “If you’d asked anybody at the beginning of the season, ‘What would the score be between Hersey and Rolling Meadows in week two?’ you’d hear, ‘3-0, 3-1, maybe 3-2,’ all with Hersey as the projected winner.
“Our boys believed, and we competed. I’m really proud of them and their efforts. No disappointment from me.”
Next up for Hersey is a trip to Barrington (no. 15 in Chicagoland Soccer’s Top 25, up from no. 34 in the preseason First 50) on Thursday. Rolling Meadows travels to Prospect. Both games start at 6:45 p.m.
Footnotes: Rolling Meadows is 1-1 in OT games in the early going after Tuesday’s setback at Hersey. The Mustangs edged Fremd’s Vikings 2-1 in OT in their season opener on March 9. … RM senior midfielder/forward Mora’s goal at Hersey Tuesday night was his third of the young season. … Huskies senior back Nathan Solarski played steadily and sturdily in the cold temps, while RM junior midfielder Gage Lockley used his speed and nifty moves to create several scoring chances for the visitors. Lockley nearly bent a lengthy left-footed shot into the northwest corner of the goal in the first half. … Chain reaction: a Hersey player was told by a referee to hustle to his team’s bench and remove his gold chain in the second half. RM coach Brett Olson had pointed the necklace out, prompting the ref to halt the action. Friendly banter from Hersey coach Michael Rusniak, directed at Olson, ensued. Or was it? A masked-up face tends to hide an intent — such as mock anger — in the middle of an interaction. … Hersey senior forward Eric Worwa’s father, Mario, played second-level club soccer in Poland back in the day. The father wore jersey no. 2, just like the son does. “Oh, yeah,” Eric Worwa said after scoring twice in Hersey’s 2-1 overtime defeat of visiting RM Tuesday night. “I’ve stuck with this number; it’s been good to me.” … Hersey’s team identity, after three games, according to Worwa: “Hustle and pride.”
Rolling Meadows GK Pablo Zarate D Luke Bieda D Joey Bloss D Ryan Stubitsch D Nikolay Pavlov M Jeremy Milewski M Tyler Dawson M Gage Lockley M Edwin Fuentes F Arnulfo Mora F Wilson Espino
Hersey GK Reese Delahanty D Charlie Shiffman D Thomas Steger D Chris See M Andrew Hamilton M Simon Hemenway M Tasos Christacos M Ronan Wilcox M Dawid Nadborski F Patryk Bujak F Sam Schuffler
Chicagoland Soccer Men of the Match: Eric Worwa, sr., F, Hersey; and Ronan Wilcox, sr., M, Hersey
First half No scoring
Second half Hersey — Worwa (Wilcox), 75’ RM — Mora (Oleksy), 77’