WHEATON -- Gabe Wasson-Farran was ready for his opportunity on Thursday night and thanks to his stellar execution, it’s a chance and finish he’s unlikely to forget anytime soon.
The sophomore crashed through a crowd in front of the goal to score for the first time while wearing the Fenwick varsity ki to help the Friars earn a 3-1 victory on the road at Kuhn Stadium in Chicago Catholic League cross-over play.
“Throughout the game we were getting the balls up there, but we weren’t getting all the players up there,” he said. “I was just ready for that ball (from James Zimmer), and I wanted to get that first goal of the game.”
Wasson-Farran had shown an ability to finish during summer play, registering a key goal against 'one of the Glens.’ This time he did it with 16:57 remaining in the first half, and it allowed the Friars to hold a 1-0 lead at the break. He was named the Chicagoland Soccer Man of the Match for his tone-setting accomplishment.
“He scored that goal over the summer against Glenbrook or Glenbard … one of the Glens,” Fenwick coach Craig Blazer said. “He’s got a very keen sense. He does it in training, so it’s not a surprise to see him do it. But to do it in a real game is hard. I give him a lot of credit.”
Fenwick (4-1-0) might have pulled ahead 2-0 just before halftime, but senior John Ballarin’s header was just too high after a throw-in from classmate Ian MacKinnon. The Friars got another chance on a corner kick, but couldn’t take advantage of it.
St. Francis came out firing after the break in pursuit of knotting the match, but their efforts were just inches off target or denied.
Ethan Campos sent a booming free kick off the crossbar several minutes into the second half. What appeared destined to be the equalizer caromed in the other direction and allowed Fenwick to maintain its slim lead.
Campos, Nick Madden, Cooper Winslow and others also had shot attempts for the Spartans, who may have lost a chance on a non-call handball. While St. Francis came up empty, Fenwick worked toward getting another to extend its lead. That happened when sophomore Nate Sabatino scored with 17:42 left to play.
“We knew we needed another goal to back us up,” Sabatino said. “I saw James (Zimmer) and knew he was going to get the ball right back to me after I passed it to him. After that I just had to place the ball in the corner, and I did.”
Trailing 2-0, St. Francis’ Winslow tried to slice the Spartans’ deficit in half. He had a pair of attempts denied, before his teammate Madden got one back with 11:36 remaining.
“Marco (Costabile) drove down the right side of the field and made a great move and played a great ball,” Madden said. “He played a perfect ball right to my head, and I just had to put it in. Pat (Spahn) was also right there, so either one of us could’ve gotten it, but I was fortunate enough to get it.”
St. Francis had plenty of time to pull even, but the last 1:56 of the game became moot when MacKinnon put the game away for the visitors.
“I just saw the goalie take a big touch and saw (the ball) bouncing out,” he said. “I thought I had a chance, and he stayed back and kicked it right to me. ... It was a chance for me to put the game away for good.”
Good is a nice word to describe the start Fenwick has gotten off to this fall.
“It was another game where we keep fighting until the end,” MacKinnon. “It was definitely a good one to get, and it’s nice to see all the underclassmen stepping up and filling their roles.”
The Friars are in a happy place.
“Good things are happening, because the guys are staying positive,” Blazer said. “They’re working hard. They’ve gotten better, and it’s only been barely three weeks. We’ve got some new faces. Guys are just having fun coming to training. They’re looking forward to it, and so all that is pretty encouraging.”
Despite the loss, St. Francis had plenty of small victories within the game that should benefit the team in the long run.
“The last 15 minutes of the first half we played well,” Spartans coach Jim Winslow said. “In the second half we had much more of the run of play.”
Scoring opportunities presented themselves at times thanks to the team's ability to create in the run of play.
“Last year we struggled a lot with getting shots on goal, and we’re doing a lot better job of getting quality shots,” Cannon said. “We played really well and I think the losses are just us making mistakes. It’s simple stuff like runs off the ball and not talking enough. It’s stuff we can fix.”
Cooper Winslow’s performance was compromised by cramps, but when he was on the field he had dangerous moments.
“It’s hard to find target-players in general, and he’s become a pretty decent one,” said his dad and coach. “So, we miss him when he gets a cramp and misses a chunk of time. It breaks our rhythm.
“We put a quick lineup out there, and they did a really nice job. That’s how we got that goal.”
The Spartans have still only played three games so their season is still young.
“Overall I was pleased, because we played so much better,” Jim Winslow said. “We played pretty well in the first half on Tuesday. But in the second half it was 91 (degrees), and it was 82 when we started. So, we had guys cramping and you could see us wilting.”
There was no fading this time, although the result was identical to that 3-1 loss to DePaul.
Fenwick first three weeks has been quite successful. The lone blemish was 2-1 loss to York, which finished first and fourth in the last two Class 3A state tournaments.
“York was a tough battle. All the other games we’ve been playing well, and I think we’ll have a good season,” Zimmer said.
“We started out pretty strong and connected over time. St. Francis started to come back, but I like the fight and spirit of our team. We all have this desire to win, and we all like to compete. When we go on the field I have a good feeling about our chances.”
GK: Dominick Ballarin
D: Matt Simon
D: Henry Zimmer
D: John Ballarin
D: Evan Hickman
MF: Sammy Allaire
MF: Armando Castro
MF: James Zimmer
MF: Joey Salarno
MF: Ryan Kupiec
F: Ian McKinnon
GK: Carter Clark
D: Nick Madden
D: Patrick Spahn
D: Johnathon Yarusso
D: Justin Klein
MF: Peter Williams
MF: Marco Costabile
MF: Luke Argamasilla
MF: John Coco
F: Cooper Winslow
F: Nicholas Tisjlar
Chicagoland Soccer Man of the Match: Gabe Wasson-Farran, so., MF, Fenwick
F: Gabe Wasson-Farran (James Zimmer), 23’
F: Nate Sabatino (James Zimmer), 62’
SF: Nick Madden (Marco Costabile), 68
F: Ian MacKinnon (unassisted), 78’