CHICAGO – The way a team starts a game can go a long way in determining the outcome.
Get off to a fast start and it can not only boost your morale but also set the tone for the match.
Be on the other side, and it can lead to a tailspin.
The quick beginning was exactly what the doctor ordered for Lane when it took on rival Young in a nonconference match Thursday night.
Senior Devin Parikh got the scoring started in the fifth minute when he took a pass at the top of the box and straight away fired a goal into the upper left corner of the goal.
“I saw a 1-v-1 situation in the middle of the field,” he said. “I knew if I just hit the ball a little bit to the side, I could get my shot off. So that's exactly what I did. I have a pretty good left foot. I've taken that shot a bunch on the field with my dad, so it's kind of just routine at this point.”
For Young, it seemed part of the same old story.
According to manager Nick Maksa, his squad has been prone to slow starts this season. He feels it is something that the Dolphins will eventually grow out of but isn’t sure how or when that change will take place.
“For whatever reason right now, we're struggling in small periods of the game,” he said. “Usually early in the first half, we're struggling for 10, 15 minutes.
“We fall behind; we find our feet, and then we really start to play well. We really start to assert ourselves in a game. We really start to create scoring chances, but it's difficult to play from behind, super difficult to consistently play from behind while you're playing a difficult schedule.
“We have to start faster. I think that for whatever reason, we are thinking that because we are trying to find our feet in the first 10, 15 minutes that other teams are trying to do the same.
“We can't have that. And the boys know that. It's something that we will fix. But it's certainly frustrating. And I know the boys are frustrated as well.”
Their opponent gave them a blueprint for change.
“Lane, they come out right away,” Maksa said. “They come out hot. They're ready to go.”
Parikh’s goal may have set the tone for the game, but Benjamin Dopp’s tally in the 19th minute definitely gave the visiting team a comfort level and lead they wouldn’t relinquish en route to the 3-1 nonconference win at the Michelle Obama Athletic Complez in the West Loop.
“We liked our perseverance, because we know every time we play them it's always a battle,” Lane assistant coach Sam Veren said. “They always bring their best when they play us.
“I think I just appreciate that we scored early. I think I shows a lot of maturity in the team to not just then sit back the rest of the game. So, I really liked that we kept sticking it to 'em. We bent, and we didn't break.”
Dopp’s goal, off the left side after a Parikkh pass, was a thing of beauty.
“We were doing a pretty good job of interchanging,” Dopp said about playing with Parikh. “I started in the middle, then he'd float in the middle. I'd float wide, and he found me out wide. My coach had mentioned the goalie was creeping up. So I looked up, saw the goalie was creeping up again, and just slotted it in the far corner.
“The goalie would kind of step out of position a little bit past the front post, and then I put it in a good spot where he couldn't get it.”
The 2-0 deficit midway through the first half could have really deflated the Dolphins, but John Stanton wouldn’t let that happen.
Normally a defender, Maksa has played him all over the field in an expanded role. Stanton cut the deficit in half with a goal a little more than two minutes after Dopp’s.
“It's a play we have,” he said. “(Forward) Garen (Petrulis) obviously can throw it farther than almost anyone. So, you get a play up there, and you look for a flick back.
“If it goes farther, you're the closer guy. You can get a shot off or you can flick it back to the middle, try to get someone else to score it. I was the closer guy to the goal. I went for the shot, and it went in.”
Down 2-1 going into the half, the Dolphins knew they had to change some things up if they wanted to get back into the match.
Their counterpart, however, knew what was coming. They had to withstand everything the hosts threw at them.
Young's pressure brought a change in Lane’s defensive scheme.
“I feel like the halftime message was we’ve got to keep dictating the game. It's not over yet,” Parikh said. “Obviously there's 40 more minutes. I do think our second half was pretty rough. I thought they were the dominant team. The whole second half we were never really on the ball, but we got it done. We had an extra goal, and that's just the way soccer is.”
“They stepped really high defensively,” Dopp said. “I felt like when we had the ball a lot in the first half they were sitting back more, but they were right on us in the midfield, so we were having trouble playing our possession football. We had to go along and that led them to keep it in our half most of the time.”
Young didn't relent.
“We were more aggressive in the second half,” Stanton said. “We played stronger, harder when they got the ball. We were all over 'em. When we won the ball, we made sure to not make dumb passes, and we kept the ball. We had some good chances we could have probably gotten something out of, but it didn't end up that way.”
One of the Dolphins greatest weapons is exactly what Lane was trying to stop: the long throw-in.
Throughout his playing days and as a coach under successful Naperville North girls soccer manager Steve Goletz and with boys coach Jim Konrad, Maksa was able to learn the importance of the set piece.
And it showed.
Even though they only scored one goal on the night, the Dolphins created havoc with the long throw-ins and also earned six corner kicks to the Champions’ one.
“It's so, so important,” Maksa said about set pieces. “We create opportunities. Sometimes they don't fall, sometimes they fall. But for every high school team, the dead ball is a great opportunity to score if you work at it. And then we have to make sure that defensively we're taking care of business too. Because it's one thing to be good at them offensively, but then you can't give them up on the other end.
“When you coach with guys like that and when you've played for them, it influences a lot of your coaching. Some people call it ugly, some people call it kind of an ugly way to win. But in the end, whatever works works. You want to win.
“And I think that that gives us 10-15 better opportunities a game to score. And it's definitely something I picked up and something I'm super thankful that I had the opportunity to learn from two guys that have kind of been dominating the sport for the past decade.”
Despite having most of the possession and controlling much of the play during the second half, the Dolphins were not able to put the ball into the back of the net.
Lane, however, was able to extend its lead and cement the win when Grayson Trinter scored his fourth goal in two days, giving his team the 3-1 final margin.
Parikh, who earned the Chicagoland Soccer Man of the Match honor, was credited with a hockey assist on the play.
Lane will rest up for four games next week, three in nonconference play.
Young soothed the sting of the loss with a 5-0 nonconference win over visiting Muchin on Friday night. The Dolphins also play four games next week, including league matches against North Grand and Marine Leadership.
GK: Andres Murdock
Def: Wilson Smiejek
Def: Jasper Grove
Def: Emiliano Gonzalez
Def: Adrian Onofre
Mid: Bowie Shumake
Mid: Andrew Hwu
Mid: Ben Dopp
Mid: Will Huge
Mid: Devin Parikh
For: Grayson Trinter
GK: Jackson Sprenger
Def: Leo Antoniewicz
Def: John Stanton
Def: Ernie Camerena
Def: Sam Henle
Mid: Ivo Hoying
Mid: Adrian Cogolludo
Mid: Reese Kruschke
F: Cole Hockman
F: Szymon Skodon
F: Garen Petrulis
Chicagoland Soccer Man of the Match: Devin Parikh, sr., MF, Lane
Lane: Devin Parikh, fifth minute
Lane: Benjamin Dopp (Parikh), 19th minute
Young: John Stanton, 21st minute
Lane: Grayson Trinter (William Huge, Parikh), 61st minute
Tag(s): New Trier