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Game story: Glenbrook South breaks string of draws, downs Glenbard West

By Bill Esbrook, 09/01/23, 12:15PM CDT


Scherer's 2nd half header delivers 1-0 victory in pool play finale

GLENVIEW -- Glenbrook South assistant Mark Daniels has been coaching soccer at the school in some capacity since the 1980s and has seen his share of wins and losses.

He’s also assuredly been involved in quite a few draws as well, and that includes the hosts first two games at their own Jim Wolter Titan Invitational. 

Glenbrook South, toiling in the tourney’s Navy Division ended deadlocked Monday against Mt. Carmel and got the same result Tuesday versus Mundelein.

So when Thursday night’s match against Glenbard West at John Davis Stadium in Glenview stretched into the second half knotted up at 0-0, the thought of ‘Oh no, not another tie,’ went going through the minds of players and coaches alike.

“Two draws in the first two games,” said Daniels, " and really, not good draws. Although in one of them (against Mt. Carmel) we were down by two goals and scored two in the second half to tie it up.

“It was good to come back from that deficit, and we’ve had some opportunities to set our own agenda at this tournament, but we haven’t.”

The wheels of fate turned a different way for the Titans in the 57th minute Thursday.

After a Glenbard West foul, Glenbrook South junior defender Paul Scherer headed in a perfect cross off a free kick from classmate Chris Vazquez, and the home team held on for a 1-0 win.

“We haven’t been able to string some possessions together in the last couple of games,” said Titans head coach Reggie Lara.

“The goal today was to improve on that and to be honest, I’m not sure we really did that. I think what it came down to was that we were able to make the most of an opportunity and capitalize on it.”

Glenbard West fought hard in the second half, especially in a wild and wooly final 5 minutes, but couldn’t get the equalizer.

“This tournament has a lot of good talent in it,” said Hilltoppers coach Phil Wicyk. “Mt. Carmel is ranked, this team here (Glenbrook South) is on their way to being ranked, and to be honest Mundelein (the other Navy group team) was one of the better teams we’ve seen in a while when it comes to control and hustle.”

“When you’re playing this type of competition, you’ve got to be on your ‘A’ game for the entire seventy minutes. We’ve just been struggling to find a goal; we’ve been shut out in two-straight games now. We are getting the opportunities; we’ve just got to find a way to put it in the back of the net.”

Hilltoppers defender Davis Barta agreed.

“The whole time tonight we were connecting passes,” said Barta. "We were playing well; we just couldn’t score. It’s been a problem this season. It’s something we’ve got to fix, because we’ve got some tough games coming up.”

The stadium scoreboard showed 35:00 at the opening kickoff, as invitational rules dictated that all matches run 70 minutes instead of the usual 80.

Glenbrook South went right to work with a quality shot in the first minute, but Glenbard West defenders Kelley Roach and Aidan Adach did a good job of sweeping it away.

The Titans kept control in the Hilltoppers side of the pitch through a good percentage of the first 40 minutes and had a couple of shots on goal, including a wicked drive by Jacob Cramer that Glenbard West keeper Jack Harrod stopped.

The visitors had their best chance in the 33rd minute after a takeaway at midfield.

Glenbard West senior midfielder Jack Barrientes dribbled past several defenders and fired on goal, but Titans goalkeeper Michael Falk made a diving stop to keep the game level.

That sent the teams into intermission with nary a score on the board, and the specter of another Titans stalemate looming large.

“We came in with a couple of injuries tonight,” said Daniels, “so we were mixing it up a little technically and formation-wise.

“We were trying to see if we could get back to our mojo of possession, put some passes together and really possess the ball better than we have been. And then, of course, finish. We’ve had opportunities to put the ball in the net. and we haven’t done it. That can come back to bite you.”

Half number two went back and forth with neither side getting the upper hand until Glenbrook South senior Nathan Halpern, who was all over the field against the Hilltoppers, ran down a long ball and was fouled deep in Glenbard West territory.

Vazquez took the free kick from about 30 yards on the left flank and sent a stellar ball into the box. From point-blank range, Scherer leaped to head it home.

“I was lined up back post,” said Scherer, “and I saw that my defender was giving me some space. I saw my opportunity. It was a great ball from Chris, so I just jumped as high as I could for it and put it in.

“I was rushed with adrenaline to win this game,” added the junior. “Not just because I scored the goal, but also so that we could get our first win at home. Our team went as hard as we could in the second half.”

The game continued back and forth thereafter, but Glenbrook South had some anxious moments. Glenbard West pressed the issue with vigor from the 65th minute right until the end.

The Hilltoppers had two shots saved by Harrod and an apparent goal disallowed due to an offsides call.

Glenbard West wouldn’t give in and had a golden opportunity to tie the game with just a few ticks left in the contest.

Hilltoppers senior forward Grayson Kalinich was fouled after a takeaway, and the referee put up her arms with only 6 seconds remaining to stop the clock and give Glenbard West time to set up for the free kick.

Glenbrook South’s head coach experienced a waking nightmare about the August 25 game against Lake Forest Academy.

“Their goalkeeper scored a last-second goal (to forge a 3-3 tie that led to a semifinal shootout loss),” Lara said. “When I saw the Glenbard West keeper running up, I was having flashbacks.”

Glenbard West senior Eduardo Vargas took the boot and sent in right to the brink of the goal line, where Kalinich made a valiant effort but couldn’t connect on a header.

Scherer kicked the ball out of harm’s way as the final buzzer sounded.

“You know what, I think the boys become a little more battled-testing from experiences like these,” said Lara. “We’re a young team, and it was encouraging to see that we were able to grind out the result in the end.”

Halpern, one of the Titans captains, felt it was teamwork that created the final result.

“I had confidence in our team,” said the senior, “and the way we were playing this game, I knew we’d come out on top.

“You never want it to come down to a last play or a last call like it did tonight, but Paul (Scherer) and our other center back, T.J. (Phillips) played great, and so did (outside defenders) Jackson Kogut and Anthony Kifarkis. They were solid, and really everyone contributed to our first win at home.”

And after the game, both Scherer and coach Lara didn’t hesitate to give props to assistant Daniels, who has become a mentor to the youthful Titans squad.

“He’s been here the longest of any of our coaches,” said Scherer, “and he’s very inspirational. When coach Daniels talks and gives you a tip, you listen because he knows what he’s talking about. I think he’s one of the best coaches at our school.”

“Mark is amazing,” said Lara, who switches roles with Daniels during the girls season. “He was my assistant when I took over as head coach about seven or eight years ago, and he’s been a great person to look up to. He’s very level-headed. Every time I need to bounce and idea off him, his experience is so valuable.

“I kind of think of him as a second father to me.”

On the other side of the field, Glenbard West junior Barta was proud of the effort his team displayed Thursday, especially down the stretch.

“Our coach’s mentality is all about hard work and never giving up,” said Barta. “I think that showed tonight, even though we didn’t get the result we wanted. We fought back at the end and almost scored.”

Starting lineups

Glenbard West
GK: Jack Harrod
D: Aidan Adach
D: Colin Weil
D: Kelley Roach
D: Davis Barta
MF: Cesar Hernandez
MF: Jack Barrientes
MF: Johan Palacios
MF: Joey Zerr
F: Eduardo Vargas
F: Luke Benson

Glenbrook South
GK: Michael Falk
D: Marben Rivera
D: Matteus Johansson
D: Paul Scherer
D: TJ Phillips
MF: Chase Owens
MF: Anthony Kifarkis
MF: Nathan Halpern
MF: Chris Vazquez
F: Matheus Carvalho
F: Jacob Ciszyk

Chicagoland Soccer Man of the Match: Nathan Halpern, Sr, MF, Glenbrook South

Scoring summary

First Half
No scoring

Second half
Glenbrook South: Scherer (Vazquez), 57'