NORTHLAKE -- Leyden erased a halftime deficit with three second half goals to defeat rival Addison Trail 4-2 in the West Suburban Conference Gold Division opener for both teams before a big crowd at the Eagles’ West Campus stadium.
Addison Trail held two one-goal leads in the first half. Joel Cruz-Alvarez gave the visitors a 1-0 lead in the 21st minute. After Ariel Diaz equalized, Daniel Lupa tallied in the 39th minute to give the Blazers their final lead.
Diaz was joined in the scoring column by teammates Oliver Salgado, Yovani Guevara and Angel Perez. Addison Trail saw its three-game nonconference victory streak end.
"This was just a real big win for us," said Diaz, who drew his club level just after the half hour. "It's such a huge game for us every year because of our rivalry with them. I really feel like everyone that played made a contribution to our win."
"We have a deep roster,” said Leyden coach Mark Valintis. “So, we like to get everyone minutes, and tonight there wasn't really any drop-off in play. The guys showed they belonged out there and earned their time with their performances."
"(Leyden) was really young two years ago, and now those players are a couple of years older," said visiting coach Mike Dini. “Tonight, they were the better team in the second half. We didn't match the level of play we gave in the first half.
"I thought we played a very good first half of soccer -- passed and moved well, defended well as a team and controlled the midfield.
"I really thought Lupa's goal right before the half would carry on over into the second half, but we just did not come out after the break with the same energy. Almost immediately Leyden took advantage. It turned things around for them."
The hosts received scares on two occasions before the quarter hour. The first required keeper Daniel Llanos to make a brave point-blank save after Cruz-Alvarez tricked his way up the right side.
Shortly thereafter, Addison Trail carved out another chance. Jose Delgado got close but had his attempt from six yards blocked on the way in toward an open net.
"I thought we did so many good things in the first half and really into the second half," offered Blazers senior Daniel Molina. “We put them under a lot of pressure.”
"We were defending a lot in the first half but also did some good things with our attack," said Leyden senior Rafa Nozka.
He and Diaz disrupted the Blazers in the middle of the park after the intermission with strong challenges, both in the air and on the ground.
“Our overall play in the second half was so good on both sides of the ball. We really did not let them do much after we went ahead with our third goal.”
Addison Trail displayed some outstanding attacking soccer in the first half with quick and precise passing, particularly in combination work, and some clever play in and around the final third.
It wasn't long until this terrific play would pay dividends. Lupa dispossessed an Eagles player and got to the endline on the left. From there he played a sublime ball across to Cruz-Alvarez, who finished easily in the 21st minute.
Lupa, the Blazers big, tall man up-top, was targeted well by his teammates in the midfield or from the backfield where Molina, or Cristian Teran proved quite adept with quality, deep service.
Leyden got a free kick from just inside 35 yards from David Tracewicz that was headed wide by teammate Duvan Trujillo. It was this half-chance that inspired the Diaz equalizer in the 31st minute. It came after a terrific one-two exchange with Guevara that pried open the Blazers long enough for the Diaz finish past Tomasz Rozkuszka, who had no chance.
When it appeared this contest was headed into the break even at 1-1, up stepped Lupa, whose brilliant, one-touch, looping and angled effort chipped Llanos from the far endline.
Lupa shared Chicagoland Soccer Man of the Match honors with Diaz.
"Conceding a goal just one minute before the half is usually not a very good thing to do for a team, but we didn't let it bother us at all," said Diaz.
"We held the ball far too much and made some poor decisions in that first half,” said Valintis. “Plus that late goal was disappointing. But we had a good talk at the break, and the guys went out and played a really good second half of soccer."
The home-side had most of the play after the break with Salgado, Diego Esquival and Jesus Ramos at the heart of much of the early success.
It was Salgado who drew the Eagles level in the 45th minute when he unloaded a nasty right-footed blast from 22 yards.
With the home crowd still celebrating the strike, Addison Trail tried for a quick response. Christopher Ortega took down an early ball out of the back and burst into the box, only to be knocked off the ball.
Blazers players fans looked to the referee to call a PK, but he dashed their hopes by waving off such a request.
Ramos, who was around the ball on several occasions in and around the box, was the facilitator of the game-winner. After he moved his effort inside the 18-yard box, the ball spilled freely near the spot. From there, the ever-opportunistic Perez easily steered in his shot past Rozkuszka, whom Dini and his staff argued was fouled during this sequence of events.
Addison Trail tried to respond with a deep throw moments after the goal. It led to a chance for Rafael Alcaraz, who saw his close-range attempt saved by Llanos.
With the Blazers desperately struggling to pull even again, Leyden’s Guevara delivered the dagger.
After his pace and crafty work on the ball led to the Diaz early equalizer, he earned a well-deserved goal of his own. Guevara beat Rozkuszka to a 50/50 ball before touching past the Blazers keeper to give the Eagles their final two-goal advantage in the 63rd minute.
"We played well enough to win, especially in the first half," said Dini. “But we let things get away from us during a short period of time in the second half. Credit Mark's kids, they did what they had to do to win the game.
"It was a good, learning experience game for us. I know that we'll bounce back and be better for it.
"Lupa did an excellent job of putting pressure on their backline and creating opportunities with his size. He was all over the field for us in the first half. Cruz-Alvarez was terrific with his distribution and was always around the ball."
Next up, the Blazers get a tough opener in the Body Armor event -- new Chicagoland Soccer Top 25 entrant Maine South (no. 24) -- at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at Olympic Park in Schaumburg.
Leyden allowed itself a moment to enjoy the win.
"It was a well-played game,” said Valintis. “We always feel fortunate to come away with a win, against Addison Trail because of how well-coached they are.
"I was really pleased with the efforts we received from all of our players. We feel we have a deep roster, and it was good to see everyone contribute to this victory.”
Added Nozka: "I felt our defense locked them down in the second half. That was the difference for us tonight."
Leyden (4-2-0, 1-0-0) is also headed to the Body Armor. They meet Crystal Lake Central at 1 p.m. in the first of two pool play games.
Addison Trail (4-3-3)
G- Tomasz Rozkuszka
D- Erik Rodriguez
D- Jose Delgado
D- Cristian Teran
D- Saul Marin
M- Daniel Molina
M- Joel Cruz-Alvarez
M- Johan Lugardo
F- Christopher Ortega
F- Daniel Lupa
F- Robert Rojas
G- Daniel Llanos
D- Brylee Molina
D- Fabian Rodriguez
D- Duvan Trujillo
D- Stefano Andrino
M- Ariel Diaz
M- Angel Perez
M- Oliver Salgado
M- Rafa Jozka
M- Brandon Salgado
F- Jesus Ramos
Chicagoland Soccer Men of the Match: Daniel Lupa., jr., F, Addison Trail; Ariel Diaz, sr., MF, Leyden
Referee: Pedro Trejo
Addison Trail: Alvarez (Lupa), 21'
Leyden: Diaz (Guevara), 31'
Addison Trail: Lupa (Herrera), 39'
Leyden: Salgado (Ramos), 43'
Leyden: Perez (Ramos), 58'
Leyden: Guevara (Andrino) 63'