Shorthanded S. Elgin can't foil Glenbard E. Storm finishes with 9, can't stop 68th-minute game-winner
By Mike Garofola
LOMBARD -- Axel Albarran netted his late effort off a short corner in the 68th minute to seal a scrappy 1-0 home win Tuesday afternoon in Lombard for the home club Glenbard East.
Until that heart-breaking point, visiting South Elgin (4-6-2, 1-2-0) had kept the home side at bay by a well organized backline and some smart work by keeper Fernando Rivera, who along with his mates held up well after two Storm players were sent off.
"We lacked the discipline needed in a physical game like this one. But we did really well after we lost two players and didn't give up (and) almost scored on a long throw from Royce Robinson which would have been great," said the senior Rivera.
"We certainly started well (had) the majority of the possession, and would penetrate the area, but we weren't as sharp as we needed to be in the final third in order to finish," said South Elgin manager, Simon Brinklow.
"The first 15-20 minutes were our best of the game for sure," agreed A.J. Kirkby, the classy senior center midfielder who wears the captains armband along with Sergio Briones, Jr.
The hosts were shortly on their heels during the early exchanges from the Storm, who initiated a corner when Jack McCall and Chris Stanczyk got together. It resulted in Kirkby forcing Glenbard East's Gerardo Galvez to save.
Moments later, Kirkby put a marvelous ball into the six-yard box for McCall that nearly resulted in a shot on frame.
The Storm (4-6-2) continued its rampant display with a variety of possession play, mixed with some direct efforts at well. That continued on during the opening quarter hour when Kirkby and his mates showed a lot of energy, purpose and industry in their attack.
"I was really happy with the way we played to open the game. We played quick and through our midfield (creating) some chances for a few of us," said Kirkby.
"It's too bad we didn't put at least one of them in. Maybe the result would have been different if we did."
Briones, Jr.'s sharp tackle of Ian Moran deterred some potential trouble from the home side. Wrapped around play in the 10th minute was a well-aimed crossfield serve from South Elgin's Nick Flores that led to a corner just before Kirkby's curling free kick around the Rams' wall required a save by Galvez.
With the Storm backline of Jacob Zupan, Elijah Patrick, Lucas Reutimann and Briones, Jr., playing smart, organized defense, Glenbard East (6-3-0, 2-1-0) was kept at arms length. Kirkby, who sat in front of this quartet, was allowed to get forward to add numbers and make the South Elgin attack far more dangerous.
"I am still getting used to playing in that role as a central midfielder, by I have a lot of trust and confidence in those guys in the back, especially Sergio, who was great today. So I was able to get forward for most of the first half," said Kirkby.
The visitors rampant attack continued, and showed plenty of life as this Upstate Eight Conference Valley Division contest neared the halfway point of the first period.
Roland Martinez, Flores, McCall, Kirkby and Stanczyk were all responsible for keeping the Rams under pressure during this time. Martinez had a go at 17 minutes and then another when goalkeeper Galvez pulled one off of his shooting boot with a fearless effort to keep game goal less.
Things began to turn for the Storm, who found themselves in a bit of chippy business. Several whistles and hard fouls helped to unravel all the good the Storm had built up to this point.
"Yes, it did get chippy, and I think the effect on us was it changed our style and skill of play, and we really struggled to find it again for the rest of the half," said Kirkby.
"That first half was a struggle," said Glenbard East coach we couldn't possess or hold onto the ball at all, and our work rate wasn't anywhere near what it needed to be," admitted Glenbard East coach Josh Adler.
The Rams boss switched formations at the break, deploying a 4-1-4-1 from the 4-5-1 he started with, and the results were key in an upswing of play from the home side.
"The different look helped us gain more in our attack, while I thought we could handle things better in the midfield with just one holding 'mid' at the same time," said Adler.
"We also were more patient, and didn't allow the ball to stay on our feet as much as we did in the first half. That went a long way towards our attack beginning to find its way going forward."
"Yeah, that new formation from East gave us a lot of trouble because they had so many numbers in the midfield, which we didn't react to very well," said Kirkby.
A war of words, and some pushing and shoving saw the referee send off two from the Storm, but after the usual sorting out period of playing short-handed passed, all the participants from South Elgin agreed the club played quite well.
"We had to play with a different formation, but we didn't give up, and actually had a lot of the play until the end of the game," said Rivera.
"Rolando (Martinez) was great during that time in the middle, and I really thought did well, even creating a couple of chances with just nine guys playing," added Kirkby.
The deadlock was eventually broken by the aforementioned Albarran who took the deflected ball from the Rams short corner and got to the center of the park before finding the lower left corner.
"During those last 15 minutes we shifted formations again because we wanted to take advantage of them being down two men," Adler said. "And I thought it helped us create more chances leading up to our goal.
"Overall, it was a tough, physical game, and one that was not very pretty. But we handled it well in order to get through it to get our fifth win in our last six games, and importantly, a win and a shutout in our division."
"Looking back, play became a little chippy towards the end of the first half and in the second half. We earned one red card, but not the second. But we regrouped and did a pretty good job of attacking and creating a few chances," said Brinklow.
"It was a disappointing loss, a handful of them coming in the last 3-4 games, but the boys our good kids - and get along well, and that's always something to be proud of."
Both Kirkby and Rivera admit the result was a tough one to swallow at first, but true to form, the club stayed together and soon put the game and loss behind with an eye towards Glenbard West, next up, and West Chicago when UEC Valley Division play continues.
"We were all bummed out by this loss, but we get along really well as a team away from the game as well, so we all bounced back from the loss after we got together for dinner," said Rivera.
South Elgin (4-4-2 starting formation) GK- Fernando Rivera D- Jacob Zupan D- Elijah Patrick D- Sergio Briones D- Lucas Reutimann M- AJ Kirkby M- Roland Martinez M- Chris Stanczyk M- Nick Flores F- Anthony Sisler F- Jack McCall
Glenbard East (4-5-1) GK- Gerardo Galvez D- Adler Joiner D- Kyle Galvin D- Clay Kepuraitis D- Alex Johnson M- Ian Moran M- Nick O'Brien M- Ronnie Avalos M- Brandon Pineda M- Alex Albarran F- Edwin Palacios
Scoring Summary Glenbard East: Axel Albarran (U/A) 68'
Chicagoland Soccer Man of the Match: Sergio Briones, Jr., sr., D, South Elgin