STREAMWOOD – What a difference a rematch can make.
That’s what Streamwood’s players, fans and coaches are thinking after Saturday’s Streamwood Fall Classic championship match against Oak Park and River Forest.
On Tuesday, the Sabres and Huskies hooked up for a memorable defensive battle that ended without a goal. Oak Park and River Forest entered that game with 18 goals, an average of more than two per game.
This time, however, Oak Park and River Forest flexed its offensive muscles. The top team in the Chicagoland Soccer Top 25, ran amok in the title match and showed why people should view them as a leading Class 3A state contender after their 5-0 win.
Two-time Chicagoland Soccer All-Stater Easton Bogard got the Huskies off to a great start with a brace for a 2-0 halftime win.
Carlos Lissuzzo, a first-year varsity player, closed out the scoring with a brace of his own in the final 28 minutes. Cole Shepherd scored the first goal of the second half in the 42nd minute.
The Huskies also proved they can win without starting keeper Cameron Smith. Keeper Christian Kellogg stepped in for his injured teammate and made four saves to pick up the clean-sheet. The Huskies are the only team to shut out Streamwood (9-3-1) so far this season.
Bogard said the game showed his team learned from their previous battle with the no. 17 Sabres.
“The last game gave us a chance to see what it took to beat them,” Bogard said. “For us, it’s really important for us to show we grew during that journey. We also need to realize in the state playoffs you don’t get a second chance against teams.”
“Winning this is another good step, just like the Joe Novy (Classic at Addison Trail on Labor Day weekend). This is good practice for state. That’s still the final goal. We were super motivated to play them again.”
After the final horn, Oak Park and River Forest coach Jason Fried watched his team do another matter-of-fact championship celebration. At the Novy, the Huskies’ reaction bordered on ho-hum, which prompted Fried to let his players know it was okay for them to enjoy themselves.
After beating Streamwood at its Millennium Field home turf, the Huskies did have a good excuse for keeping their postgame light – the rain. A steady downpour led to a quick postgame for both teams, but the Huskies did take time to take a team picture with the trophy.
The five-goal output by the Huskies (10-0-1) raised their total to 28 goals scored compared to four goals allowed. Fried said his team battled through some tired legs after Friday’s 100-minute scoreless marathon with highly ranked York. The Huskies prevailed by winning the PKs 6-5 in six rounds to advance to the title game.
“This is huge for us. We already had an insane scoreless battle with this team. They are a hard team to break down,” Fried said. “We didn’t get home until 11:30 p.m. last night because of a long double-overtime and PK game and had to be back on the bus at 9 a.m. today. They were sore, but they had to use their brain more. That’s the one thing that wasn’t sore, I told them. They played great.
“Christian did a fantastic job and played great. Our subs were consistent and played (great).”
Streamwood coach Matt Polovin stayed away from excuses but admitted his young team – at least compared to Oak Park and River Forest’s senior-dominated lineup – struggled playing three games against three talented opponents in 40 hours.
Fatigue made Streamwood feel like its opponent had 12 men on the field. The Sabres also played 100 minutes of soccer Friday, pulling out a 5-4 shootout win in six rounds over St. Charles East. The game finished tied 3-3, with the Fighting Saints tying the game late in the second overtime.
“Oak Park and River Forest is a great team without a doubt, but the huge difference is all of their players play high-level club,” Polovin said. “For them to play three games in three days, they are used to playing high level all year long. Playing three games in three days wasn’t (that hard) because of their fitness level.
“A few of our guys do play high-level club, and you could tell they were running around like (the Huskies). With the rest of our guys, you could see the heavy legs started to set in. No matter what I tried to do, from moving guys around or putting new guys in, it just wasn’t the same thing. Oak Park and River Forest did everything and more to win. We couldn’t compete today.
“I told the team that sometimes it’s okay to get your butt kicked. I’d rather have it happen now than at the end of the season when we are getting ready for regionals. Hopefully, this will humble us a bit and make us ready to come out for our next game. We have to just forget about it. I know it’s tough when you lose 5-0 in a championship game. We have to push it aside and move on and be ready for the next game.
“It’s a great group of guys. They are younger for the most part, but we do have a few seasoned veterans. We have been playing very well all season. Today wasn’t our day.”
Bogard, an Indiana recruit, added more admirers in the stands and on Streamwood’s sideline after his two goals Saturday. His determination, tenacity and effort level, combined with next-level skills, were eye-catching.
Late in the first half, a Leyden fan who was waiting for the start of a volleyball match inside Streamwood High School, sauntered over to the fence to watch a few minutes of soccer. The man, who identified himself as a soccer player from Europe, quickly started gushing about the play of Bogard and his ability to stand out among the other players on the pitch.
Fried also added a few words of praise toward his star player.
“(Easton) played really composed and well with his teammates,” Fried said. “His possession percentage was really high. We have managers who track it. He kept it really simple, and next thing you notice he’s getting free in the box. He’s an amazing finisher and a smart player. It was a great all-around game by him. He totally played well with his teammates -- some great combination plays with him. Diego (Zarate) was also off-the-charts for us, doing the same thing which opened up the field.”
Bogart’s first goal came via a perfectly placed free kick from the left side. It sailed into the upper-right corner and shocked the crowd and many players with its precise placement in the 18th minute.
Right before halftime, Bogard finished his brace by knocking in bounding ball just a few yards shy of the goal line with 9:43 left before halftime.
“Elliott Edwards had the ball on the right wing. When I saw him looking at the inside, I saw he needed some space to go. I just tried to go on the back side of the defender and tried to put my foot throughit, and it worked out,” Bogard said.
Lissuzzo, a senior forward, was in the right place at the right time for an easy tap-in for his first goal. Teammate Bryce Richards’ shot from the left side was saved, but the ball squirted loose. Lizzuzzo found the rebound and soft-tapped in from four yards. His second goal featured some drama. He almost fell down while attempting to get off a shot from distance before recovering and delivering with just under three minutes left.
Lizzuzzo said the last time he had two goals in a game was on the junior varsity team last season. His two goals marked his introduction to the varsity goal column.
“The first goal Bryce had a nice ball off on the wing, and I was right there to clean it up,” Lizzuzzo said. “The second one I had a nice move, then turned and got the ball through the goalie on the ground.
“It feels great to get (two goals). We have big goals for the end of the season and today showed our depth. Our coach expects a lot out of us, which allows us to put our best foot forward.”
Streamwood senior keeper Issac Morales, who collected seven saves, called Saturday’s blowout defeat a disappointing way to end a week of quality victories.
“(They) had much more passing up at the top,” Morales said. “We had three games in a row, so we were lagging a bit, especially since it was tough game. They were very physical, so it was a physical and mental battle. It was a tough game. We have to keep pushing forward and not give up. (Bogard) goals really killed us mentally. After the second goal we all went down and were in our own heads.”
Polovin said his team fought throughout the long match and still has things to learn. He said the Sabres took pride in reaching the championship game for the first time.
“The difference is high level all year long versus not high level all year long,” Polovin said. “It was early in the tournament when we first played them. Our fitness level was totally different. Alex Alcala, my great marking back, was with Easton the whole game the first time around and didn’t allow anything.
“This time around, we gave him space. The free kick was a banger of a kick. No goalie in the state would’ve stopped that one. The second one we didn’t track him. He took an easy shot inside the box. We didn’t have it today. The first game we had it. It’s a learning thing. I’m not frustrated or mad, because I know what I have and what they can do. As the season progresses, we will get better and stronger.”
Streamwood junior forward A.J. Sabanovic, who scored two goals in the 3-0 win over Lake Park on Thursday, nearly got on the board several times in the first 50 minutes. He immediately tested Kellogg’s net skills by drilling a shot on goal in the third minute that the keeper saved. Sabanovic had two shots in a three-minute span with roughly 16 minutes to play in the half, including a slow dribbler that Kellogg easily scooped up. Sabanovic suffered an in-game injury that he managed to overcome and stay in the game.
“The game we had earlier in the week we were up there with them, but they learned how to take us down,” Sabanovic said. “Today was not our best day. We have to keep moving forward. We were in our heads when they scored the first goal. We couldn’t bounce back from that.
“They are just a really good team. You can see that. We still have a lot to look forward to this season and are capable of doing so much more. We will bounce back from this.”
Streamwood junior midfielder Jairo Sanchez said Bogart’s two early goals shocked the Sabres.
“We changed and weren’t at the same intensity and didn’t have the courage to go up the field,” he said. “They also have a very good team. Number 14, he’s very good under pressure and not going to fold, even if he has two guys on him. He will get past them. Their whole team is really technical and play well.”
Last season, Elgin captured the Streamwood Fall Classic, riding the momentum from the tough tourney experience to an undefeated regular-season and the program’s first sectional title. St. Charles East claimed the first Streamwood Fall Classic title.
Oak Park and River Forest:
GK: Christian Kellogg
D: Ben Naber
D: Isaac Felder
D: Jesus Cervantes
D: Izzy Erwin
MF: Diego Zarate
MF: Cole Shepherd
MF: Nate Day
MF: Robert Sambou
F: Bryce Richards
F: Easton Bogard
GK: Isaac Morales
D: Alex Alcala
D: Merced Avila
D: Andy Mendoza
D: Trey Yi
MF: Max Galvan
MF: Jairo Sanchez
MF: Bryan Huerta
MF: Andy Benitez
F: A.J. Sabanovic
F: Ricardo Agular
Chicagoland Soccer Man of the Match: Easton Bogard, sr., F, Oak Park and River Forest
Oak Park and River Forest: Bogard (free kick), 18’
Oak Park and River Forest: Bogard (Edwards), 31’
Oak Park and River Forest: Shepherd (unassisted), 42’
Oak Park and River Forest: Lissuzzo (Richards), 52’
Oak Park and River Forest: Lissuzzo (unassisted), 78’