skip navigation

Game story: Kuelthau comes to the rescue in Benet draw vs. Lane

By Matt LeCren, 09/17/23, 12:15PM CDT


Beauty of a late goal leads to 1-1 finish

BERWYN – Jack Kuelthau and his Benet teammates weren’t in high spirits after getting outplayed by Lane in the first half at the Morton Premier Invitational on Saturday.

The Redwings were fortunate to be trailing Lane by just one goal.
Jack Kuelthau put things into perspective.

“Once we were down, it kind of felt like everyone had their head down,” he said. “At halftime, coach was talking about how it’s only one goal, so we have 40 minutes to tie it up.”

Benet used nearly 39 of those minutes before the junior midfielder took on the hero’s mantle. He headed home a long free kick from freshman midfielder Jack Wesley to pull even with 1:51 remaining.

Forty seconds later, Benet goalkeeper Drew Connell stepped up with the last of his five saves and punched away Davin Parikh’s 23-yard free kick, and the match ended in a 1-1 draw.

For the Redwings (4-3-2), the result was akin to a victory.

“It felt like it,” Kuelthau said. “It was a good result against a really good team.

“In the second half, we started to get a little bit outplayed, but towards the end we started to get it together. The last two minutes, Jack put a ball in and to get the goal felt really good.”

Wesley’s serve came from 39 yards and sailed over a crowd to Kuelthau, who was inside the six-yard box on the right post. Using his 6-foot-2 height, Kuelthau rose up and sent his header crashing top shelf for his first goal of the season.

“That was really nice, both the ball in and the finish,” Benet coach Matt Klosterman said. “(Wesley) put it in the perfect spot.

“It was a tough angle to be able to pick that spot out. (Kuelthau) did a really nice job going to the ball.”

The Redwings, who have struggled with inconsistency, especially on offense, finished undefeated in the two-game event. They did well to hold off city power Lane (7-2-1), which is ranked 21st in the Chicagoland Soccer Top 25, and won 1-0 at no. 19 Lyons on Friday.

“I thought (Lane) was good,” Klosterman said. “The first 10 minutes I thought we looked really good. Then we kind of switched off for a while, and Lane switched on.

“I thought toward the end we were kind of coming on and played better down the stretch and were able to manufacture one.”

The Redwings actually had the first quality scoring chance when forward Brendan Bergnach, who scored the game-winning goal in previous two games including the 13th-minute winner against Lyons, ripped a 21-yard runner from the right wing which forced Lane goalkeeper Anders Murdock to lunge to his right to knock the ball wide of the far post.

But for the rest of the half, Lane’s Champions looked like, well, champions. Forward Parikh was outstanding, putting on a clinic of long-distancing shooting.

He scored his team-high ninth goal of the season for a 1-0 lead with 11:24 left in the first half. Kanan Kraus sent a diagonal ball across the field from left to right.

A Benet defender came within inches of intercepting the ball, but it made its way to Parikh, who settled the ball just inside the box and beat Connell with a rocket under the crossbar.

“I thought (the defender) read it right and just missed it,” Klosterman said. “I think we’re tough to play against.

“We don’t give away many of those. We’ve got to be just a little bit cleaner.”

Parikh said the same thing about himself. He unleashed seven shots, most from well outside the box and all came heavily lathered in mustard.

“Obviously, I love scoring goals,” Parikh said. “I do like taking shots from distance.

“I think I have a good foot. I practice it a lot. I think I’ve been playing well, but that has to continue, obviously, in order to get to the place that we want to go this season. We’re going to have to keep it up.”

Lane assistant coach Sam Veren expects Parikh to keep up his pace.

“He’s talented,” Veren said. “He knows how to find the ball.

“He knows how to get the ball to his feet and good things happen when the ball comes to his feet.”

The Champions did a lot of good things Saturday but couldn’t sustain their high level long enough to secure the victory. Parikh sent one open shot over the crossbar and had two others denied by Connell, who parried one shot form the right wing around the post late in the first half and punched another hot rocket up in the air before coming down with it with 2:21 to go in the second half and just 29 seconds before Benet got the equalizer.

“Individually, I thought my first half was pretty strong,” Parikh said. “Second half was not as great.

“I felt they put a little extra pressure on me because of my first half, but as a team I thought our first half was really strong. The second half we were tired. It was our fourth game this week, so the legs were a little heavy. We just can’t give up a foul like that that late in the game.”

Even so, Parikh did give kudos to the Redwings for executing a perfect restart.

“It was a beautiful ball,” Parikh said. “It was a great header.

“(Kuelthau), he was probably the biggest kid on the field, so you can’t be too upset about that, but we should know not to give up a foul like that.”

Benet nearly gave up a second goal with 9:30 remaining in the first half, but defender Drew Fieldman came flying in from out of the proverbial frame to deflect Wilson Smiejek’s point-blank volley wide of the near post.

“I thought we had a couple opportunities to bury the game in the first half, then it might have been a different story if we had taken advantage of it,” Veren said. “We were, at least for the first half, the better team. I think that they laid on the gas a little bit the second half, but we were defending it well for the most part.

“Sometimes a tie feels like a loss, and this one feels like a loss.”

It was a bit of a missed opportunity for the Champions to make their mark outside the city limits. This was their third such game in a week that included a 2-0 victory over Libertyville on Monday and a 1-0 loss at no. 2 Morton on Thursday.

“Obviously, we’re a big school but we still have to show who we are to suburban schools, because that’s where the real competition is at,” Parikh said. “We did it against Libertyville. We didn’t do it against Morton, and I don’t think we did it today. We’re going to have to step that up.”

Benet feels it needs to improve, too, which is why they relish chance to play unfamiliar foes like Lane.

“I love the tournament,” Klosterman said. “These are really good teams. They’re different, so it’s a little bit like the playoffs in that you don’t really know them very well.

“You kind of go in and adjust and deal with whatever challenges you have in front of you, and that’s great. It helps you grow.

“We’re still growing. You come in here for this tournament and come away with a win and a draw, you feel pretty good.”

Starting lineups

GK: Drew Connell
D: Jack Walsh
D: Nick Roe
D: Nick Nirtaut
D: Drew Fieldman
M: Sam Trunnell
M: Jack Kuelthau
M: Ruslan Holubec
M: Jason Riedl
F: Matt Benka
F: Brendan Bergnach
GK: Andres Murdock
D: Wilson Smiejek
D: Emiliano Gonzalez
D: Jasper Grove
D: Benjamin Dopp
M: Bowie Shumaker
M: Kanan Kraus
M: Alex Bornstein
F: Grayson Trinter
F: Devin Parikh
F: Will Huge
Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match: Devin Parikh, sr., F, Lane

Scoring summary

First half
Lane: Devin Parikh (Kanan Kraus)    29’
Second half
Benet: Jack Kuelthau (Jack Wesley) 79’