Metea, Waubonsie battle ends up even Warriors and Mustangs typical, strong effort leads to 1-1 draw
By Chris Walker
AURORA -- Waubonsie Valley is a resilient group so a little adversity wasn’t going to cramp its style on a frigid Tuesday night.
Having already overcome the hardships of a delayed fall season, and the excitement of the announcement of a spring season though condensed with adjustments for pandemic issues and the lack of a state tournament -- well, the Warriors weren't going to let a no-call ruin their night.
And it didn’t.
After yielding a questioned goal with 29:49 remaining in the second half of a back-and-forth contest, the Warriors answered 31 seconds later with the equalizer that would prove to be it for the offenses. Waubonsie Valley and host Metea Valley concluded the night with a 1-1 tie in double overtime in DuPage Valley Conference action.
“Like I said (Monday), it was going to be tight, and we’ll probably tie again,” Metea Valley coach Josh Robinson said. “It’s always fun with (Waubonsie Valley coaches Jose Garcia, Julie Bergstrom and Pete Lambert), but it’s one of those things where I wish we were finishing better than we are because the kids are frustrated.”
Waubonsie Valley (1-2-1, 0-1-1) had reason to be frustrated when Metea Valley (0-2-1, 0-1-1) scored for the first time this spring when junior forward Henry Moreno speedily dribbled downfield and had a ball ricochet off the Warriors and bound into senior midfielder Reece Taylor’s path.
The Warriors stopped in their tracks, thinking the play was being whistled dead. Taylor paused, and then finished, to give the hosts a 1-0 advantage much to the dismay of Waubonsie Valley.
“It was a little confusing,” Garcia said. “The AR kind of lifted the flag and everyone stopped, including my guys. I think everyone thought it was fairly obvious that he was offsides. We’ll look at the film and see what happened.”
What happened afterward was Metea Valley didn’t take advantage of what may have been a gift.
“You felt like you have this break, and then right after it I think they felt they got punched in the gut a little bit,” Robinson said. “Credit to Jose and Waubonsie after the kind of craziness of our goal for them to come back and immediately respond.”
Reece’s goal was the first by the Mustangs since Mark Thurow scored the third goal in a 3-0 regional seminal on the same pitch way back on Oct. 23, 2019, against their other big rival Neuqua Valley. But despite the excitement of getting on the scoreboard, the lead barely lasted loo short to be truly enjoyed
“It was super frustrating that we don’t have the composure in that moment,” Robinson said. “They were going to come after us with some intensity and when we don’t clear that up then it’s 1-1, and we have to battle. And it was a good battle, a good game, but we had a couple other opportunities to finish that we didn’t.”
Waubonsie Valley's Aaron Griffith, who was named Chicagoland Soccer Man of the Match, acknowledged that surrendering a goal proved to be the wake-up call that he and his teammates needed.
“I know I hadn’t done much in the game so I think we all got kind of mad and turned it up a notch,” he said. “We weren’t playing at our full potential; and then they scored, and we flipped the switch.”
The deficit inspired him to look for an opportunity as soon as he could find one and be aggressive with it.
“I wanted to make a play and, you know, get involved more,” he said. “I just turned my defender and took my shot. It was a well placed-shot, and I scored.”
It truly was the kind of action a playmaker makes when a team needs someone to make a big shot. Griffith did from about 25 yards. “I had a player on my back and felt him coming around my left shoulder a little bit,” Griffith said. “So I turned to the right since I had space. We hadn’t had any shots in the game, and I wanted to get a shot on net. I hit it well, and it went of the post and went in.”
It certainly was an awe moment for the Warriors bench.
“Aaron had a wonderful goal, one of the best goals I’ve seen in a long, long time at the high school level,” Garcia said. “I was very impressed with how we responded and very happy with how they played. Hopefully we can continue with this momentum and keep this energy high for the next game.”
Injuries have made things difficult for the Warriors on defense, but they wouldn’t use that as an excuse after getting strong play from its backline and goalkeeper Bryan Grimaldo.
“One of the things we pride ourselves on is not giving up too many shots on goal or too many conceded goals,” said junior defender Callum Keller “A big thing tonight was keeping ourselves in check, and not talking to the refs was big for me. (Zach Stanley) kept talking, and I told him (to be quiet) because he was already maintaining control at the center back position, and I just wanted him in the game so we could still win. I was happy we got the goal back. Their goal was lucky, but sometimes things just don’t go your way.”
The lack of scoring chances in the overtimes probably had a great deal more to do with fatigue and scrappiness than anything else.
“They were working hard, just gassed,” Robinson said. “Kids started to cramp up and go down, and it’s tough when you’re playing, and it’s 36 degrees.”
The overtimes also were plagued by stoppages and had little flow to them.
“The OT got killed off,” Robinson said. “For all the intensity at the end of the game, it died off really quick and then picked up a little bit at the end, but there were so many stoppages and no one was able to get a grasp on the ball until the last bit and people were tired.”
Even prior to the overtime, scoring chances were kept to a minimum by both squads who settled for more difficult opportunities. Sometimes these are the games where one error, a bad bounce, a player slipping on the cold, hard surface, often is the deciding factor but such didn't occur.
Midway through the second half, Waubonsie Valley had a solid opportunity after gaining possession of a loose ball in the box. But Metea Valley goalkeeper Oscar Mejia came out and got it. On a similar threat, Diego Carrillo pounced on a bounding ball. His shot from 30 yards went far right, and Mejia just watched it sail out of harm’s way.
Metea Valley had a couple of chances to break the tie. Reece turned and fired, but his shot went right into Waubonsie Valley goalkeeper Bryan Grimaldo’s paws with 14:40 left in regulation. A few minutes later, Colin Bastianoni eyed up the Warriors wall on a free kick from 25 yards but his boot sailed over the wall and beyond the goal.
Carrillo got banged up in what was a rather uneventful first overtime period. The Warriors earned a corner in the second overtime but were unable to take advantage. The Mustangs had a play that seemed to develop like the goal they scored, but this time Moreno’s shot caromed away safely. Bastianoni took another free kick but this time found Grimaldo.
“It was a good performance,” Robinson said. “Bryan made a couple strong saves for Waubonsie, and Oscar had a couple good saves. It ended up being different styles of play but even in a lot of ways.”
On a night where small snow drifts lay in a line like dashes around the artificial turf surface and butted up against the charcoal-colored track and field lanes that surround the soccer pitch that the Mustangs call home, players took the field with a RealFeel® temp of 32 degrees.
“We wouldn’t have canceled a girls game when it’s like this,” Robinson said. “Girls games are played in this all the time, and I think it’s these extenuating circumstances this year. Besides, the schedule is tight enough already, so I’m glad we were able to get it in. We all want to have a better result, but it’s been a good couple of years in a row now that we’re drawing each other.”
Keller said he wasn’t thinking about the cold.
“I honestly wanted to take my undersleeves off I was sweating so much,” he said. "Some of my teammates on the bench said it was freezing, but I was all right. We were focused on winning the game anyway.”
Last year, the teams also tied 1-1 in double overtime with Alex Krehl putting the Mustangs on top with a goal in the 12th minute. Metea Valley couldn’t sustain the lead though, surrendering a goal to Dan Morgan off a corner kick in the final minutes of regulation.
“I thought it was pretty even toward the end for. Both teams, I thought, played really well,” Garcia said. “It was a back-and-forth game and a pretty good game, especially when both teams are really animated like this and really want it.”
Robinson wants more for his guys, acknowledging that they’re not getting the kind of results they deserve for the effort they’re putting forth every time they take the field.
“I saw great intensity with what they’re doing, so I’m proud of them,” he said. “I just want a better result for them, because they deserve that result. Between the three games (we’ve played) they deserve something better than what we have, but it’ll come.”
Waubonsie Valley GK: Bryan Grimaldo FP: Joseph Haddad FP: Callum Keller FP: Gean Riberio Scarpell FP: Diego Carrillo FP: Aaron Griffith FP: Alan Sanchez FP: Javi Gonzalez FP: Zach Stanley FP: Yahir Rodriguez FP: Kadin Feese
Metea Valley GK: Oscar Mejia D: Evan Bach D: Adam Casselman D: Clarke Simonich M: Colin Bastianoni M: Tyler Green M: Drew Marquardt M: Brady McCann M: Nick Sanchez M: Reece Taylor F: Henry Moreno
Chicagoland Soccer Man of the Match: Aaron Griffith, sr., FP, Waubonsie Valley
First half No scoring
Second half Metea Valley – Taylor Reece (Henry Moreno), 29:49 Waubonsie Valley – Aaron Griffith (UA), 29:18