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Game story: Glenbrook South reverse engineers comeback win over Deerfield

By Patrick Z. McGavin , 09/15/23, 2:00PM CDT


Rivera's goal, assist sparks rally in 3-1 CSLSouth win

GLENVIEW — A consistent identity is typically the hardest part of a soccer team to shape. The flow of the game and real-time complexities create their own brand of peculiar logic and form, and can detract from a team's style and game plan. 

Glenbrook South has experienced a split personality through the first month of the season. The Titans can be dominant in a half, yet other times seem out of sync,

“We were a first half team against Maine South,” coach Reggie Lara said his team’s 3-1 road loss to the Hawks on Tuesday (Sept. 12).

Titans’ defender Marben Rivera has observed his team’s fluctuating states.

“What I’ve noticed in some of our games is that we get off to a strong start. Others we have a lot of energy in the second half. I think we just need to bring it from the start,” he said.

Rivera scored the go-ahead goal and facilitated a follow-up score in the Titans’ comeback 3-1 victory over Deerfield in Central Suburban League South Division play Thursday night.

The Titans (7-3-2, 1-1-0) did to the Warriors what Maine South did to them on Tuesday night when the Hawks scored twice in the final 10 minutes to win by the the identical score.

Glenbrook South broke the game open with three goals during a 13-minute, second half burst.

Despite a wave of injuries, Deerfield (3-7-0, 0-2-0) was gallant in defeat. The Warriors withstood the Titans’ pressure, and showed moxie and toughness.

Keeper Xander Yang was outstanding with 13 saves, repeatedly denying the Titans from distance or at the point of attack.

“The last two games Xander has been playing at a level we always knew he could play,” Deerfield coach Ryan Crane said. “Against Evanston on Tuesday night, he made some absolutely ridiculous saves, and we saw that again tonight.

“We’ve been challenging Xander to step up. He kept us in the game, controlling the box and denying their set pieces or the run of play.”

This is the Warriors’ first year in the South Division, and especially this season, it was not the greatest group to join. It’s arguably the toughest boys soccer conference in the state and features elite, high-end talent and deep benches.

Undefeated and fourth-ranked Evanston, no. 5 New Trier and no. 7 Glenbrook North are state championship contenders. Maine South (7-3-1) was previously ranked in the Top 25 and is currently listed as an honorable mention team with Glenbrook South.

Significantly those schools have enrollments twice the size of Deerfield, which was moved into the division due to a league reallignment. Niles West moved from the South Division to the North Division.

The timing was not great for the Warriors, either.

“We had to drop a level (of soccer at the school), so now we have three,” said Crane of the number of teams offered by the Warriors. “We’re going up against teams with five levels, and they are still cutting people from their programs.

“We have three teams with solid numbers, but when you start picking up injuries and illness, those numbers go down. We still got some really good minutes from some people. Peter Tye gave us some great minutes in the midfield. It was great to get guys some time against a really quality opponent.”

Yang was efficient and active, moving off his line and deflecting a range of early Titans’ activity. Glenbrook South generated four corner kicks in the first 19 minutes.

“A lot of what I do is just being dominant in the box and trying to confirm my defense,” Yang said. “It’s tough managing sometimes with so many people pushing up, but I give credit to my defense. They did a lot of what they could do. Slips happen sometimes, but that’s human. 

“I’m not going to beat myself up over it. We are just going to take it, move on and focus on the next play.”

Glenbrook South's forward push allowed several counter movements from Deerfield.

In the 24th minute, the Warriors took advantage and caught Glenbrook South off guard, which resulted in a foul off the right edge. 

Midfielder Andrew Babos made it all work, drilling a beautiful, hard left-footed shot from about 29 yards that curved brilliantly inside the near post for a textbook free kick goal.

“I tried to take advantage of the situation,” Babos said. “I knew we haven’t tested their keeper, and I thought why not take advantage of the opportunity. I don’t think it was the perfect shot or anything like that, but it was hard and on-target.”

The goal was his team-best 11th of the season.

Coming off a one-sided Tuesday loss against Evanston, the Warriors remained steady, optimistic and open to every challenge.

“We're trying very hard to compete,” Babos said. “We don't expect to win every game. We’re trying to play good soccer, get into every game, play well and compete out there.

“We did that tonight. I think we showed them we are not going to be an easy team to play against.”

The math eventually worked against the Warriors. The Glenbrook South advantage in time of possession, quality of chances, and set piece operations took their toll.

The early second half play was a mirror image of the first, with Glenbrook South on the attack, and Yang dug in. In the 51st minute, midfielder Nathan Halpern hammered a ball from about 12 yards that forced the keeper to make a spectacular stop.

Halpern pounded his hands into the ground in frustration, but the sequence led to the Titans' breakthrough.

On the ensuing corner kick from the right edge, 6-foot-2  forward Conor Beach eventually controlled the ball inside the box with a header that set up sophomore defender T.J. Philips, who finished with a sharp half-volley from about six yards for the equalizer.

“We knew we could score, because of all the chances we created throughout the first half. We just had to stay positive and keep going,” Philips said.

“It got to be a little frustrating to see all those chances, and not finish them. We just kept going strong.”

Newly liberated with the tied score, Glenbrook South leveraged that momentum into increased pressure that Deerfield contained but could not really disrupt.

Rivera took command in the 58th minute. Floating around the final third, he got on a deflection about 16 yards from goal on the right wing. From there he launched a beautiful and looping shot that floated over the outstretched reach of Yang for the game-winner.

“I always feel like after scoring one goal we just get more motivated, and we have greater energy. We just want to score more,” Rivera said. 

“We talked about keeping up the pressure, and trying to score again, before we got subbed out of the game.”

Rivera earned the Chicagoland Soccer Man of the Match distinction for his excellent play. He secured the victory moments later, finding forward Jacob Ciszyk on the right wing.

Ciszyk took the ball in stride and worked his way down the right flank. He glided past a defender and smashed home a hard liner from about 12 yards inside the back post.

In less than 15 minutes of game-time, the Titans went from a deficit to utter control.

“The same thing happened in our (Jim Wolter Titan Invitational) tournament (tie) games against Mundelein and Mount Carmel, where we were down a goal or two, and after we got the first score, we just got motivated,” Ciszyk said.

“We just have to keep our heads up, and be mentally strong. We’re a tough team.”

Starting lineups

GK: Xander Yang
D: Mason Greitens
D: Noah Harwood
D: Nicholas Biank
D: Chase Goldsmith
MF: Cristian Carani
MF: Andrew Babos
MF: Peter Tye
F: Mason Greitens
F: Christian Castro
F: Matthew Seed

Glenbrook South
GK: Michael Falk
D: Marben Rivera
D: T.J. Philips
D: Matheus Carvalho
M: Matteus Johansson
M: Nathan Halpern
M: Jacob Cramer
M: Anthony Kifarkis
F: Jacob Ciszyk
F: Conor Beach
F: Chris Vazquez

Chicagoland Soccer Man of the Match: Marben Rivera, sr., D, Glenbrook South

Scoring summary

First half
Deerfield: Andrew Babos (free kick), 24th minute

Second half
Glenbrook South: T.J. Philips (Conor Beach), 51st minute
Glenbrook South: Marben Rivera (unassisted), 58th minute
Glenbrook South: Jacob Ciszyk (Rivera), 64th minute