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Game story:Kerrigan’s hat-trick powers South Elgin past Fenton

By Jared Birchfield, 09/15/23, 1:00AM CDT


4-1 Upstate Eight win pushes Storm’s undefeated streak to 5

SOUTH ELGIN -- The first hat-trick of Ashton Kerrigan’s high school career propelled South Elgin to a 4-1 win over Fenton in Upstate Eight action Tuesday night.

The senior scored two goals in the run of play and converted a penalty kick in the victory that extended the Storm’s unbeaten streak to five. Ryan Nguyen also found the back of the net.

Fenton’s Christian Bailon’s second half goal ended South Elgin’s shutout string at three. 

South Elgin coach Jerzy Skowron believes his team is finally hitting its stride.

“Offensively, we’re really rolling right now and making positive steps forward. We take on Geneva on Saturday,” Skowron said.

While the South Elgin manager was a bit bummed the Storm did not get its fourth-straight clean-sheet, he’s not surprised Fenton stopped the streak.

“I am a little disappointed that we gave one up the way we did,” he said. “But they’re too talented to go for 80 minutes without a goal.”

Fenton’s biggest challenge is finishing its attacks according to Bison coach Victor Ruiz.

“Our kids battle. I think we dominated most of the game. We had some opportunities, but you know all season we have not been to put the ball away,” Ruiz said. “If you put the ball away, it’s a different story.”

Nguyen put South Elgin (4-4-2, 1-0-1) on the scoreboard with his fourth goal of the season in the fourth minute of play. Nguyen corralled an Emiliano Morales chip at mid field, raced down the pitch, got past Fenton goalkeeper Alvaro Rios and knocked the ball in from 10 yards 

“I was playing really high on their defensive line, and I found a gap in between their left back and their center back,” Nguyen said. “Emiliano had the ball in the midfield; I just made eye contact. He knew where to go and just slipped me in. I took a touch in, and I just placed it.”

Kerrigan scored his first goal with 6:06 left in the first half. The senior took control of the ball near the center circle, sped past the Bison’s defense and scored from 20 yards.

“Matthew Lipp was clearing the ball from our half, and I was just in the right place at the right time. I took a touch in front of the last defender and finished it.” said the forward. 

South Elgin controlled the run of play in the first half. Momentum swung to Fenton (3-5-2, 1-2) in the opening minutes of the last frame. After three unsuccessful Bison shots on goal, Bailon hit paydirt on a rebound in the 46th minute. Storm keeper Aaron Cacucciolo (five saves) deflected Daniel Mendez-Perez’s close-in try. The ball bounced back to Bailon, who knocked it home.

South Elgin was ready for the fired-up Bison according to Nguyen.

“They definitely did come out stronger in the second half, but on the sideline we were talking about it,” he said. “I think we came prepared for the second half, and we just matched their aggression.”

Fenton took Ruiz’s halftime, confidence-boosting chat to heart.

“I just told our kids that we’re the better team,” said the coach. “We possessed the ball well in the first half and just don’t be afraid of them.”

Nguyen felt South Elgin held the edge in a key statistic.

“I think winning the 50/50 balls was like one of the biggest keys. It helped a lot,” said the senior. “You know, I think that’s what decided the game.”

South Elgin was worried about Fenton's top, scoring threat Ricardo Radilla.

“Number 16 (Radilla) on their team was giving us a lot of fits," said Skowron. "For a good chunk of the game we had to put Ryan back there to kind of shut him down, and it worked.”

Kerrigan restored South Elgin’s two-goal cushion in the 51st minute on a PK. His shot into the right corner of the net just eluded a diving Rios.

“Obviously, I was a little bit nervous, but I’ve taken PKs in bigger spots in my career,” the senior said. “I just placed it where I always do.”

The forward scored his final goal of the night with 19 minutes left to play after taking control of an Eduardo Lopez through-ball. Kerrigan avoided a tackle attempt from Eder Morales, raced past Rios and smashed the ball into the netting from 15 yards.

Kerrigan, who leads South Elgin with seven goals, was named Chicagoland Soccer Man of the Match for his offensive prowess.

Skowron felt it was a well-earned honor.

“Ashton deserved it. He is a hard-working kid. Ashton finally had his breakthrough game that he’s been waiting for,” said the South Elgin coach. “He’s kind of taken this team and put them on his shoulders. And as of right now, we’re going to go as far as Ashton is going to take us.”

The Storm coach hopes Kerrigan’s play will inspire his teammates.

“When the rest of the guys decide they want to jump aboard and start scoring some goals, like Jason (Kudrna) did the other night, then we’re going to be pretty tough to beat,” he said.

South Elgin’s offense used its speed to best Fenton’s defense.

”We take what teams are going give us,” Skowron said. “We’ve got a really good mix of possession-minded technical players in the middle. If teams are going leave guys like Ryan, Ashton and Ethan (Jimenez) one-on-one up-top, then I wish them good luck.”

The Storm’s defense is finally at full strength.

“Today was the first time we’ve been 100 percent healthy since the first game," Skowron said. "Jonah (Stueck) is back on defense after his concussion, and Pablo (Correa) finally played a majority of a game.

“Also, they’re taking what we what we’re teaching them, and they’re applying it. It’s great to see."

Stueck, one of the team’s captains, was pleased with the backline’s play.

“Today we kept our defensive shape; we stayed disciplined,” he said. “The communication was there. I think overall it was a success besides that one goal.”

Starting lineups

GK: Leomar Ruiz
D: Christian Lopez
D: Eder Morales
D: Josh Galeana
D: Bogdan Stadnyk
MF: Ricardo Radilla
MF: Christian Bailon
MF: Giovanni Galeana
F: Daniel Mendez-Perez
F: Javier Villaruel
F: Oscar Macedo

South Elgin
GK: Aaron Cacucciolo
D: Issac Marquez
D: Jonah Stueck
D: Xavier Marquez
D: Edwin Porter
MF: Quentin Albert
MF: Justin Defensor
MF: Emiliano Morales
F: Ryan Nguyen
F: Ashton Kerrigan
F: Jahson Leon

Chicagoland Soccer Man of the Match: Ashton Kerrigan, sr., F, South Elgin

Scoring Summary

First half
SE: Ryan Nguyen (Emiliano Morales), 4’
SE: Ashton Kerrigan (Matthew Lipp), 34’

Second half
F: Christian Bailon (unassisted), 46’
SE: Ashton Kerrigan (PK), 51’
SE: Ashton Kerrigan (Eduardo Lopez), 61’