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Game story: St. Francis tops Aurora Central for 1st Chicago Catholic League win

By Bill Esbrook, 09/15/23, 10:30AM CDT


Spartans claim 5-0 White Division win over young Chargers

WHEATON -- The pitch at St. Francis’ Kuhn Memorial Stadium in Wheaton is beautiful and unique.

The school had to replace its damaged, outdated turf a few years ago. Instead of going with the traditional green, they installed a field that alternates every ten yards between royal blue (one of the Spartans colors) and dark blue.

In one end zone, St. Francis is spelled out in white (the other team color), and in the other end zone, it shows Spartans in big bold letters.

“It looks really cool, and we like the contrast,” said Spartans athletic trainer Sarah Anderson of the colorful playing surface.  

“We had to replace the old field that was basically unplayable. We’re in a flood zone, so we had to do to a lot of projects to keep it from flooding.

“We did it a little differently. I don’t know a lot of schools who have something like this.”

It’s certainly striking, and speaking of striking, that’s exactly what St. Francis did Thursday night against visiting Aurora Central.

The Spartans posted a 5-0 and earn their first-ever Chicago Catholic League victory.

Both St. Francis and Aurora Central are new to the conference this season and compete in the White Division. The teams moved from the Metro Suburban Conference.

Spartans coach Jim Winslow appreciated the win, but didn’t feel that the Spartans played up to their potential for the most part.

“We weren’t clean, that’s the best word for it,” said Winslow.  “We didn’t make anything easy tonight.

“Everything we tried to do was forced a little bit.  But once we got the first one, and then a very nice second goal, we kind of settled in.”

Aurora Central played right with St. Francis for most of the first half, but two goals approaching halftime sent the Spartans on the road to a comfortable victory.

“The first half we were defending well,” said Aurora Central coach Enrique Anaya.  “We got our number 13 (sophomore Elias Perez) back from injury, and he definitely made a big difference for us.

“It was just that we got lost in the second half.”

St. Francis senior captain Nick Madden put the pressure on the Aurora Central defense from the opening kickoff.

Madden had a quick shot in the third minute that was saved by Chargers keeper Miguel Vazquez. Just 17 seconds later, Vazquez stopped the same shooter.

In the ninth minute Madden took a great feed from classmate Cooper Winslow, who played a terrific match, and bent a shot from 25 yards away from the left flank.

It looked to be on goal but at the last minute flew just beyond the far post.

The game went on scoreless for the first 29 minutes, and a lot of that was due to the stellar work of Aurora Central defender Nathan Diedrich, one of the team captains for the Chargers.

Time after time, Diedrich stymied the Spartans attack.

“I thought we started a little slow,” said St. Francis sophomore midfielder Michael Hutchens. “But once we got into it, we started connecting passes and started to find our opportunities to score.

“It was a little frustrating, but we were able to fight through it.”

St. Francis finally found the net in the 30th minute.

Winslow was knocked down after receiving a pass in the box. The senior forward got up, brushed himself off and took the ensuing penalty kick.

The rocket he fired into the upper right corner of the net gave the Spartans a 1-0 lead.

St. Francis scored again just a minute later.

Sophomore John Coco, an ultra-quick midfielder who was a step ahead of the Chargers all evening, tracked down a ball in a corner of the Aurora Central end and sent it to teammate Marco Costabile.

Costabile connected from 25 yards away to make it 2-0 Spartans, and that’s the way it stood at intermission.

“We were a little frustrated in the first half,” said Coco.  “I had a couple of shots early that didn’t go in, and even in the second half I hit one that went way over the goal.

“Then we got focused and reset, and started scoring.”

Winslow said that the speedy Coco was a key component of the Spartans success Thursday.

“He’s quick. He’s fast, and he’s good with his feet,” said the coach.  “He’s still young, but he goes on runs where he’s able to do some very good things.

“He makes a big difference for us.  He’s dangerous.”

Both teams came out with a ton of energy for the second half, but a tally by St. Francis with just 7 minutes gone in the period gave them the momentum and took the wind out of the Aurora Central sails.

Madden sent a ball from 35 yards in the dead center of the field to the brink of the Chargers goal.  Coco leaped to try for a header, but the ball sailed over his head.

However, the ball appeared to glance off of an Aurora Central defender and cross the goal line to make it 3-0 in favor of the home team.

St. Francis was at it again in the 56h minute when a corner kick went bouncing into the box.

Spartans junior midfielder Luke Argamasilla headed he ball to senior Patrick Spahn, who put it away from six yards to make it 4-0.

“Goals three and four came very quick,” said Winslow, “and then after that you could see the air go out from them (Aurora Central).

“Had we put two or three in early in the first half when we had a lot of opportunities, it would have settled the game earlier. But it is what it is.”

The remainder of the game was played almost exclusively on the Aurora Central side of the field. Misrael Diaz fired home the final goal of the game in the 73rd minute.

The sophomore took advantage of a Chargers miscue deep in their territory. He controlled the ball and dribbled toward the end line just to the right of the net.

Instead of passing, he took the shot from an almost impossible angle from about 15 yards. Somehow it found the back of the net.

Aurora Central showed it’s mettle as the time on the scoreboard wound down.

The Chargers pushed forward to break the shutout. Diedrich sent a great ball into the left corner, but it couldn’t be tracked down.

Then in the final minute, Diedrich found senior forward Jake McVey in space, but his attempt from 25 yards was saved by Spartans keeper Carter Clark.

Clark and fellow goalkeeper Nathan Magnuszewski each played 40 minutes to earn the clean sheet.

“This was a confidence builder,” said Winslow, “To be honest, so was our last game against Fenwick (a 3-1 Spartans loss).

“We very well could have been up in that game, or it very well could have been a 2-2 finish.  We were pressing and getting opportunities, we just didn’t put one away. The Fenwick keeper did a nice job.

“We gave up a bad goal at the end.  It was a goalkeeper mistake, a young mistake. But generally speaking, it’s not like we didn’t play well.”

Hutchens indicated that the outstanding defense at the beginning by Aurora Central almost derailed the Spartans, but he and his teammates finally put it together.

“It was frustrating in the first half,” said Hutchens, “but we were playing well.”

“Our defense was great. We were doing a good job of clearing the ball.  We were fast on the offensive end too, and we were able to chase down some through-balls. Then we were able to score.”

Aurora Central sophomore forward Matthew VanDeman came in to the contest with seven goals, but he was held in check by the Spartans.

“We started off really strong,” said VanDeman. “We were excited to play this game. We really wanted to win this game and get it going.

“Just a couple of unlucky goals including that penalty, a couple of unlucky bounces, and we were down 2-0.

“They scored the third goal, and we kind of shut down. That was the final blow.  They (St. Francis) are a fast, physical team. It was hard to get past them.  We couldn’t get out of our own way.

“We really just have to work on our mentality and staying in the game the entire 80 minutes.”

Anaya added that that the first half goals by St. Francis took the Chargers out of their system.

“We were trying to keep our early momentum but we lost it,” said the coach.  “One thing that we sometimes do is hang our heads, but when we keep playing our game, that’s when we’re the strongest.

“We weren’t getting our touches. The life was kind of sucked out of us tonight, but I’ve got a lot of young kids playing now.

“I’ve got six freshman that are starters, so our future is super bright.  Our biggest game is just touch-ball, small-ball.

“We can’t play long ball. We’re too small. When we do that (possession game) we play a great game.”

Starting lineups

Aurora Central
GK: Miguel Vazquez
D: Nathan Diedrich
D: Connor Dineen
D: Omar Flores
MF: Neil Mayer
MF: Alan Acosta
MF: Leory Arias
MF: Christopher Incandela
MF: Adolfo Vivereos
F: Matthew VanDeman
F: Jake McVey

St. Francis
GK: Nathan Magnuszewski
D: Justin Klein
D: Nick Madden
D: Patrick Spahn
D: Jonathan Yarusso
MF: Luke Argamasilla
MF: John Coco
MF: Marco Costabile
F: Nicholas Tisjlar
F: Peter Williams
F: Connor Winslow

Chicagoland Soccer Man of the Match: Cooper Winslow, sr., F, St. Francis

Scoring summary

First half
St. Francis: Winslow (penalty kick), 30’
St. Francis: Costabile (Coco), 31’

Second half
St. Francis: Madden (unassisted), 48’
St. Francis: Spahn (Argamasilla), 56’
St. Francis: Diaz (unassisted), 73’