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Game story: 2nd half effort pushes Lemont past Bremen

By Kyle Garmes, 09/10/23, 9:45AM CDT


Halftime talk leads to 2-1 South Suburban win

MIDLOTHIAN -- Lemont didn't make any huge tactical adjustments after a slow start at Bremen on Sept 9.

The visitors just played harder, strung together more passes and surged back for a key South Suburban Conference Blue Division victory.

Junior Luciano Mancini scored the game-winner with less than 8 minutes left in Lemont's 2-1 victory.

After a pass toward the goal hit seemingly everyone in the box, the Chicagoland Soccer Man of the Match put the shot in the net that earned his club three points.

"It was just staying with the play," Mancini said. "It kind of hit off four guys, and popped back up to me. I was just ready for it."

Lemont (3-3-1, 2-0-1) dominated possession after intermission and kept the ball mostly on Bremen's defensive half. The team strung together some passes in the first half, but its second 40 minutes was much cleaner and tighter.

"We all came together at the half. We had to pick it up," Mancini said. "We realized in the first half that we kept booting the ball forward. We really weren't playing our game of soccer. 

“Second half, we calmed it down; we started playing more on the flank and got our runners in. With the middle, we started playing with each other and more compact. We were able to get it to our forwards a little bit more, and it caused us to finish."

Freshman Gabriel Zarycki, who got a touch on the ball as he lay on the ground during the scrum in the box moments before Mancini's goal, had a beautiful header to tie the match with 26 minutes left.

Aidan Ontiveros played in a clean ball from the right side, and Zarycki smoothly flicked it into the net.

The play looked like it would result in a goal the moment it left Ontiveros' foot.

"I just hoped to score," Zarycki said. "I missed two earlier in the season. I was waiting for my goal."

Bremen (2-5-0, 1-3-0) didn't win the possession battle in the first half either, but the Braves created a few scoring chances, including one that senior Sinuhe Meza finished in the 33rd minute for a 1-0 halftime lead.

In his dangerous first half, sophomore Diego Lagunas fired a low shot from the right side of the box. Lemont goalkeeper Amir Baba stopped it but couldn't corral it, and the ball settled innocently in front of the net. Meza ran onto it and knocked it in.

Bremen couldn't hang on to earn a positive result, but coach Tom Piotrowski remained upbeat.

"That's how it goes in the conference," he said. "It can go either way. Every team's going to be a tough battle. You've got to do that little extra to end up on the 'W' side. I think we looked really good for a while, but we got to make sure that we stay consistent the whole game."

Lemont had several chances in the second half.

Mancini nearly scored again a minute after his goal, but his volley near the left post was saved by Bremen goalkeeper Angel Nolasco.

Maciek Furczon, who played a strong game in the air in the second half, nearly started a scoring sequence after the match was tied. He played the ball out wide to Mancini, who played a ball in that Zarycki just couldn't quite get to.

Furczon consistently won headers in the second half, often flicking the ball on to give teammates a chance for a run at goal.

Lemont coach Rick Prangen wasn't happy with Furczon's first half but was pleased with his turnaround after the break.

"I credit him," Prangen said, "because I got on him a little bit in terms of just, ‘Hey, we got to pick the work-rate up, concentrate.' And he did."

Prangen said those themes were the primary focal points at halftime.

"As a coach, those are hard things, because there's no drill for concentration,” Prangen said. “Work-rate you can push for, but the guys got to dig deep.

"The guys were upset at halftime that we were down. It's one thing to be upset. The next thing is, well, what are you going to do about that and what things are going to get us back into it? And it was work-rate. 

“We didn't have to do anything tactically different, because we created chances in the first half. It would have been nice to finish a few more of our chances, to be honest with you, because we're asking our defenders to play really, really a perfect game. But all in all, a good result for us on the road."

Bremen's best chance in the second half came on a free kick near the top of the box with 16 minutes left, but the shot was saved.

Piotrowski worried his team maybe let off the gas a little.

"Naturally when we're up one, we kind of become a little more defensive," he said. "So, then we lose that push where we're on their side more. That gives them more opportunities -- especially a team like Lemont, that plays direct and just sends in ball after ball after ball. So eventually, something's going to fall.”

Bremen hosts Marian on Monday (Sept. 11) in a nonconference game, then returns to South Suburban Conference play when it welcomes Richards on Tuesday (Sept. 12).

"Honestly, despite the game not going our way today, I feel pretty good," Piotrowski said. "We've made a lot of improvement, and we're kind of figuring out where each person falls in our lineup. I think with that, we are actually starting to improve, and by the end of the season, come playoffs, or even a little before that, I think we're really going to find our stride then."

Lemont hosts Evergreen Park on Tuesday (Sept. 12) in league play.

Mancini likes where his team is headed.

"Right now, it's on the up-slope for sure," he said. "Beginning of the season, we had a tough time closing out games. We were winning games, then we'd kind of just fall apart toward the end. Now, we're actually putting the force down, and we're not falling apart throughout the game."

Starting lineups

GK: Amir Biba
D: Luciano Mancini
D: Marco Pavlica
D: Aidan Ontiveros
D: Andrew Guzy
D: Maciek Furczon
MF: Vincenzo Mancini
MF: Ali Nabulsi
F: Tyler Chrisman
F: Gabriel Zarycki
F: Brett Tucker

GK: Angel Nolasco
D: Cristian Meija
D: Sergio Martinez
D: Alex Esparza
D: Diego Gomez
MF: Sebastian Sanchez
MF: Cristian Cardenas
MF: Jose Cardoso
MF: Sinuhe Meza
MF: Osvaldo Ramirez
F: Diego Lagunas

Chicagoland Soccer Man of the Match: Luciano Mancini, jr., D, Lemont

Scoring summary

First half
B: Meza (UA), 33’

Second half
L: Zarycki (Ontiveros), 54’
L: L. Mancini (UA), 73’