BARRINGTON -- The match Saturday was not particularly aesthetically pleasing to view, However, as far as Prospect was concerned, beauty lay in the eye of the beholder.
The Knights used a 72nd-minute spot-kick from Dimitriy Hutnyk and stout defending to earn a hard-fought 1-0 Mid-Suburban League win Saturday afternoon at Barrington Community Stadium.
The visitors’ Hayden Hoelting and Nathaniel Cremascoli agreed the soccer wasn’t especially pretty.
"We fought and played hard today for 80 minutes. It's this type of win that will really boost the morale of our team," said Hoelting, who shared Chicagoland Soccer Man of the Match honors with Cremascoli.
"It's always great to beat a team like Barrington. Today, it took all of us, which is something that I am really proud of," added Cremascoli.
Prospect, without the injured Adam Toporkiewicz and Michael Casaletto, opened in a 5-3-2 formation. Hoelting was asked to play the role of the six by manager Mike Andrews, who heaped plenty of praise on the junior afterward.
"Hayden ran miles out there today,” said Andrews. “Touchline to touchline, box to box, he won so many balls for us in the midfield today. Nathaniel was equally strong along the back all day long."
"We kind of played a double six at times, then switched to more of a 4-4-2 after the break," added Hoelting. “It really helped us keep their chances to just a few in the second half.”
Entering the match, Barrington (5-5-1, 3-3-0) had squeezed itself into the third spot in the West Division behind division leaders Palatine and Schaumburg thanks to consecutive, clean-sheet wins over Conant and Elk Grove.
"We've been playing a little better of late," said Broncos manager Scott Steib. “We've defended much better than earlier in the season, but we still are having a lot of trouble finding the back of the net.”
Entering the game, Barrington had conceded as many goals as it had scored (nine).
The home-side came out on its front foot. Philip Jackowski raced to the endline before playing across to Daniel Gawronski, only to see Knights keeper Griffin Whalen react wonderfully to this sequence and win a 50/50 challenge with Gawronski.
The same two Broncos connected minutes later. If not for a strong tackle from Cremascoli, Gawronski may have had a 1-v-1 with Whalen.
In between, Prospect (3-7-0, 2-3-0) showed glimpses of gathering steam offensively. Hutnyk and Hoelting were at the heart of it all with junior Carter Cremascoli there to provide pace and purpose from his spot up-top.
"We were a little slow finding our attack in the first half,” said Andrews. “We managed to create a couple of chances here and there, but it was in the second half that we were much better."
Barrington enjoyed more of the play and possession in the first half hour, but it was neither sharp in the final third, nor clean with its touches.
"We had a decent start, but for the most part we came out flat," offered Andy Sfondilis. “It was as if we were all waiting for someone to provide a spark to get us really going.”
The Broncos fine left outside back won plenty of balls on his side of the pitch and provided service and distribution whether deep in the Broncos end or joining the attack.
He jumpstarted a counter that went through Magdiel Magdaleno, Wilson Neuhauser, Brian Mazgaj and Alexander Sanchez before it was dashed on the other end by one of four offside flags raised in the first half.
Jake Hackney sent in a lovely, early diagonal-ball to the back post for Gawronski, but again Whalen came off his line without hesitation to catch the serve.
Hutnyk attempted to chip Barrington keeper Evan Ryder with a nifty little touch in the 31st minute, but the Broncos freshman keeper smartly came off his line to persuade the close-range effort to go away.
Moments later, Prospect lost the services of Max Czapulonis, who was brought off with the help of his teammates and the Broncos athletic trainer.
The hosts came alive for the last three minutes of the half. Patrick Tabb forced Whalen into action with an angled attempt. Wilson Neuhauser earned a free kick just ahead of the break.
"At times in that first half, and actually throughout the game, it looked like we would string something together in our attack to create chances," lamented Sfondilis. “But they defended really well in their midfield and along the back. We just were not good enough with our touches.”
Barrington’s first five minutes after intermission saw: Jackowski go close; Tabb fire over the bar seconds later, and Alexander Sanchez have Nathaniel Cremascoli block his attempt on the way into the box.
"We made some adjustments at the half and switched to a straight 4-4-2," said Prospect’s coach. “We asked our wing backs to get more involved on both sides of the ball. After that initial pressure from Barrington, I thought we got ourselves back into the game really well.”
There were sequences during the next 20 minutes where the Knights took charge of the show with good work from Christian Bautista, Mikolaj Myszka and Matthew Fouch, followed by Hoelting, Hutnyk and Gio Siviero.
"Mikolaj was huge for us in the second half," said Hoelting. “He played alongside me in the midfield and won a lot of balls, especially in 1-v-1 situations.”
Hoelting unleashed a wicked long-range free kick that crashed off the bar in the 66th minute. With the visitors now brimming with confidence, Hutnyk followed from 35 yards but found the roof.
Steib switched to three in the back, Nico Hausser, Logan Cidulka and Sfondilis as he threw numbers forward in search of the game-winner.
Play got quite chippy during the last 13 minutes. Referee Jim Kollias booked four.
After Prospect’s Fouch appeared to be fouled from behind in the box, the assistant referee at the far touchline waved his flag. After a brief conversation with Kollias, the ball was placed at the spot, much to the disdain of Steib and his staff.
Hutnyk drove his spot-kick to the left of senior, second half keeper Charlie Field, whose full extension was unable to reach the game-winner.
Prospect managed the final six minutes well but still had to hold its breath when Sfondilis headed a ball from Sanchez wide.
"We've dealt with a few injuries, and we have also lost a couple of games we felt could have gone our way," said Andrews. “But the guys came out today and played with a lot of heart and desire, with everyone chipping in.”
Next up for the Knights is Hoffman Estates (5-2-3, 2-1-2) at home Tuesday.
Barrington travels to Buffalo Grove (4-6-1, 3-2-0) the same evening.
"It's a tough loss for us, but we can take a lot of things from today and move forward,” began Sfondilis. “We know we can be better next time out.
"It's important to keep things positive within our team, pull ourselves back up, put the work in and continue to strive to be better."
The match Saturday was aligned with the “Red Card Cancer” program of the American Cancer Society. Both clubs came together before kickoff for a photo where every player held up a red card.
The public address announcer asked members of the crowd who have been affected by cancer to stand. Those who did were warmly applauded by the fans and players.
G- Griffin Whalen
D- Matthew Fouch
D- Robert Morys
D- Nathaniel Cremascoli
D- Rajko Perduh
D- Rique Huezo
M- Alan Malikowski
M- Hayden Hoelting
M- Dimitriy Hutnyk
F- Carter Cremascoli
F- Gio Siviero
G- Evan Ryder
D- Andy Sfondilis
D- Logan Cidulka
D- Jack Ball
D- Nico Hausser
M- Daniel Gawronski
M- Wilson Neuhauser
M- Mattie Vitale
M- Patrick Tabb
F- Kian Cullen
F- Philip Jackowski
Chicagoland Soccer Men of the Match:
Nathaniel Cremascoli, sr., D, Prospect;
Hayden Hoelting, jr., MF, Prospect
Referee: Jim Kollias
Prospect: Hutnyk (PK), 72'