ELGIN – Elgin senior defender Edgar Perez waited a long time for his measure of revenge.
He admitted he still feels the pain and anger after losing out on a possible Class 3A state championship last season.
A year ago the Maroons roster was full of talented and motivated players with a good blend of experience, who were ranked no.1 in the Chicagoland Soccer Top 25 the last four weeks of the regular-season. They entered the playoffs with a 16-0-3 record and then won the school’s first sectional.
One of Elgin’s draws came last season came from an epic showdown against York in the Streamwood Fall Classic. The two teams hooked up again last season – big surprise – in the Class 3A Streamwood Supersectional.
In a matchup of no. 1 seeds, the 2021 state champion Dukes, who finished fourth in the state last season, knocked off the Maroons 4-2 in a penalty kick shootout after a 100 minutes of high octane soccer ended in a 2-2 tie.
“Last year I played the whole match in both games (against York),” Perez said. “I took both games personally. I wanted redemption. We felt we deserved to win that supersectional. Today was going to be my redemption.”
Unfortunately for the host Maroons, Dukes came up victorious once again. In a matchup of two of the top teams in the state, York took the lead with a late first half goal and tacked on a second goal in the 65th minute to pull out a 2-0 victory over the Maroons in Group C play in the opening round of the Streamwood Fall Classic.
The Dukes (5-1-0), who were ranked fourth in the Chicagoland Soccer Top 25, face off against Riverside-Brookfield (3-5-0) in game two on Monday at 7 p.m. at Streamwood High School. The top-ranked Maroons (5-2-0) take on no. 11 St. Charles North tonight at 6:30 p.m. in Elgin.
York senior midfielder Damian Glodz’s header in the box gave the Dukes a 1-0 lead with 4:29 left until intermission.
“I wasn’t expecting it, but it crossed in, and the goalie was coming out. I just put my head in there. It somehow went in, and we all started celebrating,” Glodz said. “We didn’t keep the ball nowhere near as much as we wanted to for the game, but we got the win. It felt great to score. I love playing with all my friends. We’re starting to build chemistry.”
As a newcomer to the budding rivalry, Glodz said he was happy to contribute to the win, but he said the final 40 minutes were nerve-wracking.
“I was little nervous at the end, but I trusted my teammates and goalie, and we got the result we wanted,” he said.
York senior defender Alexander Menolascina provided the cushion for his team with a headed goal with 15:10 left in the game. Gustavo Herrera earned the assist.
Elgin’s Perez, a talented defender with excellent communication skills, said the Maroons will learn from losing consecutive games to Top 10 teams in Naperville North and York. Prior to the Naperville North match, the Elgin hadn’t lost a regular-season match since Oct. 9, 2021. In a matter of three days, they lost two-straight games, which will tumble them down the rankings several notches.
“It’s a learning process,” Perez said. “We have to all communicate and lift each other up. Our team is having a rough time right now, but we can just go one game at a time. We can bring up the wins again. We will bounce back.
“We started off lousy in warmups. It wasn’t our best warmup. Everybody tried to bring up the energy when the game started. We got an unlucky red card. I didn’t see it. But it happens in games. We dominated in the first half. Then, in the second half, we were going up and up with high pressure. We had them for those 40 minutes. We just couldn’t finish them.”
The Dukes took the big road win in stride, not overly celebrating, but each player had a little extra pep in his step after the hard-fought and entertaining game against a very talented team. This wasn’t a supersectional win, but the large, somewhat late-arriving crowd demonstrated it was a match between two heavyweights with title aspirations.
York junior goalie Diego Ochoa showed tremendous moxie and grit to record a clean-sheet against a program which rarely experiences a shutout loss.
Ochoa racked up six saves. He endured an onslaught of hard shots, mainly in the second half when the Maroons had the wind advantage. His six saves were just a smidgen of the shot attempts – many hit with incredible force. Although the Maroons were off-target with the majority of their shots, Ochoa was under constant attack, especially in the final 40 minutes. Elgin senior forward Eduardo Nava was a prime threat.
“I’m proud of the shutout, got a lot of tough shots from Nava, but I got a clean-sheet,” Ochoa said. “I knew I had to stand up to him, show him confidence. I just trusted my instincts and positioning and the defenders to at least stay in front of him. I’m proud of my backline.
“This is a big win against a very good team. (Elgin) definitely lost some players, but they still had that fight in them.
“I can’t wait to see how we do in the playoffs.”
Elgin coach Jimmy Romano tipped his hat to the Dukes for their solid defensive play, along with Ochoa’s net effort. The coach admitted the loss stung but put it into proper context. The regular-season defeat would be wiped away with a trip to the state semifinals.
Romano didn’t express frustration over the consecutive defeats, but he was a bit perturbed about back-to-back games with a player on his team picking up a red card. Starting goalie Carlos Benitez received a red card with 22:33 left in the first half that forced David Castaneda to step into a key role against a talented team. He notched two saves.
On Thursday in the 3-0 defeate to Naperville North, Elgin defender Oliver Garcia picked up a red card when it was ruled he used his hand to stop a shot on goal inside the box.
“I’m going to be honest, and I normally don’t say this, but it’s different if we have a full team,” Romano said. “(The red card) was a misinterpretation of the rule of what these referees are seeing. It happened against Naperville North, and it happened today.
“I’m not afraid of speaking out against it. It’s punishing us. At the end of the day, it’s not excuses. Both matches after we received red cards, we regrouped and dominated the games. We possessed and had control of each match, even with a man down. Our guys didn’t give up and played our style, and we were on the attack.
“We were knocking on the door, and out-possessed them, out-passed them and even outshot them. I’m happy with the way we responded. This is not the playoffs. We’re learning and growing and people know what we can do with a full squad.”
The second-straight loss led to a number of Elgin players finding comfort inside the cavernous stadium underbelly rather than spending any extra minutes on the field. Nava, a next-level player with an awe-inspiring skill set and vision, was one of the most frustrated players. Hampered by injuries last season, he scored 23 goals and tallied 12 assists – in 14 games.
He put his full arsenal of moves on display against York’s talented and tall backline, imposing his will on the game with aggressive play and shots from all angles. The frustration of several missed shots and the possibility of losing again to the Dukes nearly led to an altercation with York’s goalie Ochoa. The two players pushed each other, then were nearly nose-to-nose for several seconds before both pulled away from each other in the 55th minute.
Several times after firing one of his blistering shots toward the goal that didn’t find the back of the net, Nava would his hands on his head in amazement and frustration.
Before the slight altercation, the Maroons had narrowly missed scoring off a pair of corner kicks within a 30-second span. Ochoa also had a leaping save before a flurry of four-straight corner kicks by the Maroons in a tense, two-minute segment.
“(Nava) is a great player and teams try and plan against him,” Romano said. “We have a whole team of threats. It’s early on. This is good for us, to get that taste in our mouths. We can bounce back and learn and get some more hunger and desire. David and Carlos have shared time (in goal) for us more or less. Carlos was playing more as late. Both of them are quality goalkeepers, so we are lucky to have both.”
Defending tournament champion Elgin may now have to try to get into the semifinals as a wild card.
York, which did not advance past group play in last year’s tournament, did benefit from the man-advantage, battled well. Senior defender Mateusz Janowski, in particular, did a stellar job attempting to keep Nava without a goal despite nearly 10 shot attempts.
“I just want to give Elgin complete credit,” York coach Jordan Stopka said. “They completely dominated. If you were a bystander, and you came in the second half and didn’t know who had the red card, you would’ve guessed we had the red card. They were calm and had quality passes. Everything runs through Nava up-top. I do want to give Mateusz Janowski a shout-out for holding him tough. (Nava) still got his chances, but a good player like that will always get his chances.
“I think Mateusz did a good job, especially in the first half neutralizing him. We scored off some set pieces and headers.
“Our backline was great. Diego, I can’t say enough of him. We have to get better with our touches in the back and building up out of the back, so we don’t have to go long so much.”
Janowski heaped praise on his goalie for earning the shutout, but also cherished the challenge of battling against Nava.
“It’s a lot of fun always playing against him, because he’s a tough guy to guard,” Janowski said. “I just had to use my body and limit his shooting and not let him turn. I’ve played against him a lot, even in league play. He’s always a physical guy and hard to guard. You can’t let him turn.
“Diego did a great job. He had to save us a few times. It wasn’t pretty in the second half. We had to grind out a result and get it done.”
GK: Diego Ochoa
D: Mateusz Janowski
D: Freddie Steen
D: Ethan Welz
D: Alex Papa
MF: Michael Greco
MF: Gustavo Herrera
MF: Aaron Jobi
MF: Daniel Marcial
F: Damian Glodz
F: Jayden Waski
GK: Carlos Benitez
D: Roberto Salinas
D: Geovanny Aviles
D: Bryan Diaz
D: Edgar Perez
MF: Fernando Cuahquentzi
MF: Jayden Plancarte
MF: Aaron Saldana
MF: Alex Villarruel
F: Eduardo Nava
F: Danny Perez
Chicagoland Soccer Man of the Match: Diego Ochoa, jr., GK, York
York: Glodz (Greco), 36’
York: Menolascina (Herrera), 65’