OSWEGO – Waubonsie Valley maintained a theme throughout Friday’s nonconference match against Oswego East.
Basically, the Warriors kept the approach before and during the well-played 80-minute affair between the rivals.
On the first Friday night of American football opening day for teams throughout Illinois, the Warriors arrived 30 minutes late for their scheduled 4:30 p.m. game against the Wolves. That essentially forced several players and fans to scramble for the parking lot following the match to attend a gridiron game that evening.
As the temperatures soared to 85 degrees, the Wolves had to spend some extra time in the heat to wait for the arrival of their visitors.
When play began, Waubonsie Valley struggled out of the gate. The found their way and scored two goals in final 20 minutes to pull out a 2-1 victory.
Either way, whether winning pretty or winning ugly, the Warriors (2-0-0) were all smiles following a second quality win to start the campaign. In its season-opener, Waubonsie Valley posted an upset 2-1 win over Benet, which is ranked 16th in Chicagoland Soccer’s First 50 preseason poll.
Warriors senior Beckett Stotlar, whose goal tied things up, noted how his team’s play changed in the game.
“The first half we started off rough, probably because of the late start,” Stotlar said. “We just started working together and passing the ball a lot better in the second half and possessed the ball better and had a lot of combination plays. We’re happy get two quality wins over Benet and Oswego East.”
Waubonsie Valley coach Jose Garcia was all smiles following the spirited comeback win on the plush grass field. The game was originally scheduled for Thursday, but the 100- degree heat led to last-minute change of date.
“We had to deal with bus issues and roll with the punches, but we did. And it was tough with the heat,” Garcia said. “We started off a bit slow, but once we got the momentum toward the middle of the game that really helped us. We’re still trying to figure things out possession- and technique-wise, but toward the end, we started to get it together.
“I’m so proud of these boys and what they’ve accomplished so far. They are really meshing right now. We’ve been doing a good job on the final third and finishing.”
After the tough loss, Oswego East sat on the grass behind their bench and attempted to digest what happened in front of its small, but packed grandstand. The Wolves, who finished with a 9-7-4 record last season, have high hopes for this season with 14 returnees. Though it was apparent they clearly miss the big-time scoring ability of graduate and Chicagoland Soccer All-Stater Dupablo Parodis-Yu.
The Wolves (0-1-1) started sharp. Jonathan Carranza, a junior midfielder, slid a shot past Waubonsie Valley goalie Abrham Tiburcio just 3 minutes, 34 seconds into the game.
“I saw the gap, so I called Dylan (Drendel),” Carranza said. “I know he could play me the ball, and it was perfect. All I had to do was tap it.”
Carranza nearly contributed to another goal. Early in the second half, he drilled a shot off the crossbar. Josh Lopez got on the rebound and knocked the ball in, but the referee waved it off.
“We have to finish better,” Carranza said. “We have some other things to work on. It was an unlucky loss. I think we played pretty good and hustled. It was just unlucky they got that last goal, and we were unable to finish.”
Stotlar kicked off Waubonsie Valley’s comeback by scoring on a short shot to even the game with 20 minutes left.
“I just saw an open space, and the ball came right to me from Cole Ondrejcak,” Stotlar said. “This is a good win for us. Last year we weren’t the best team but starting off 2-0-0 is great. Our energy this year is unmatched.”
Late in the game, Ondrejcak completed his assistance to the Warriors ' cause when he found Amiel Nichani. The junior defender, who was all over the field racing around attempting to make a difference on the sizzling and humid day, took advantage of an avenue for a goal and buried a shot from seven yards with 94 seconds left in regulation for the game-winner.
“I just saw the open space ahead of me,” Nichani said. “Cole put a beautiful ball over the top, and I had to bring it down. When I’m that close, I just had to put it in.
“The first 20 minutes were tough, but it was hot and we were trying to get used to the field, the level of play and speed of play. We knew we could comeback after getting that first goal.
“It feels amazing to be 2-0-0. We’ve been working hard. We have a young team but put in the work in the preseason and are building our team for next year. This feels really good.”
Waubonsie Valley junior Lachlan Ladd noted the heart of his team in the late comeback, especially after not attempting a shot on goal until the 36th minute.
“This is a big win for us,” Ladd said. “We started off really slow, but this really shows how our team is willing to work hard for each other and never give up on the game. I didn’t think the momentum was completely in our favor toward the end. When I saw the second goal go in it felt really good, and we came back from the 1-0 deficit."
Oswego East’s Caleb Pankiewicz called it a tough way to end the weekend. The Wolves have the first two Saturdays off this season, which gave them time to mull over the one-goal defeat.
“I feel like it just comes down to our mental mistakes,” he said. “It’s a tough loss, but we will come back from it. We worked hard, and we will come back stronger. I feel as a new team with a lot of new players that we just have to get our confidence up. We know we can finish.”
Oswego East senior Landon Kangas, a second-year varsity player, said the Warriors simply took advantage of their limited opportunities. The Wolves had four quality shots in the final 12 minutes to add another goal but came up empty.
“It’s tough to lose off two of their easier chances, but we struggled in the final third converting off their mistakes,” said Kangas of the Wolves, who tied no. 7 Hinsdale Central on the road Aug. 22. “We have to start taking more shots and connecting in the final third and goals will come.”
Editor's note: After Friday's spirited win, Waubonsie Valley )2-1-0) suffered its first loss of the season in 1-0 contest Saturday at Plainfield North.
GK: Abrahm Tiburcio
D: Aryaman Patodia
D: Jonah Greifenkamp
D: Amiel Nichani
D: Evan Wojtowich
MF: Richardo Uriostegui
MF: Lachlan Ladd
MF: Cole Ondrejcak
MF: Tristan Mehra
F: Cade Valek
F: Beckett Stotlar
GK: Javier Ruiz
D: Elyas Edders
D: Mariano Ramirez
D: Aaron Godinez
D: Nick Smith
MF: Jack Walter
MF: Landon Kangas
MF: Jonathan Carranza
MF: Dylan Drendel
MF: Caleb Pankiewicz
F: Josh Lopez
Chicagoland Soccer Man of the Match: Amiel Nichani, jr., D, Waubonsie Valley
Oswego East: Carranza (Drendel), 4’
Waubonsie Valley: Stotlar (Ondrejcak), 60’
Waubonsie Valley: Nichani (Ondrejcak), 79’