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Game report: Conant 1, Glenbard North 0

By Mike Garofola, 10/20/23, 12:15PM CDT


CAROL STREAM -- Oliver Wozny scored the only goal of the game to send no. 11 seed Conant into the regional final at the expense of host and fifth-seeded Glenbard North after a 1-0 victory Wednesday in the rain.

Conant (10-10-2), which was 3-6-1 in the fourth week of the season, was organized in a 4-3-3 formation. The Cougars lineups included two-time coaches’ all-stater and junior Krystian Niziolek and senior Ukyo Takahashi, who ranked as one of the best center backs in the area after his return from club.

"We're a much better team than our record shows," said Cougars manager Jason Franco. “We've had some lapses … this season in games that we should have won.

"We came into this game expecting to see a flashy, technical Glenbard North side, but they played a physical, gritty game, which I felt we were able to match in order to get a hard-fought victory."

Luck was not on the side of the hosts.

"The guys played hard tonight,” said Glenbard North coach Spero Mandakas. “We stayed with the game plan and defended really well against a very good team. Maybe if we don't hit the posts two times, the result ends in our favor."

The Panthers (13-9-2) came into this contest with a deserved fifth seed. They weathered a 20-minute storm that saw the visitors test keeper Daniel Noval with a handful of attempts on frame. The best came in the 19th minute on a wicked drive from Niziolek.

Noval was a dangerous man himself when he took Panthers free kicks. One long-range serve from the midline fell to Andy Rodriguez, who redirected from the spot but could not convert.

Rain greeted both sides after intermission and remained throughout the second half. It did not slow the all-action play that at times went box-to-box, much to the delight of the big crowd.

Glenbard North senior Jorge Roman (17 goals) saw his in-close attempt for an 18th goal turned away by Cougars keeper J.D. Becerril, who went into full extension to make the save.

Becerril was at it again minutes later. This time he turned away Christian Escobedo (18 goals), who curled his free kick toward the upper-right corner in the 58th minute.

Conant held a lot of the possession and enjoyed long stretches of the play. The Cougars finally broke through 10 minutes from time.

After the home-side had trouble clearing the area, Wozny got on the ball and unloaded a low drive from off the end line that found its way through a crowd of black and white shirts and into the far inside-netting.

Glenbard North went with three in the back the rest of the way in its effort to find an equalizer. The Panthers received a final quality chance from Jorge Roman, but when the 80th-minute effort failed, time ran out.

"Diego Navarro-Saavedra, Rodrigo Nunez, and Hugo (Tecuanhuehue) played great along the back, and Jorge (Roman) and Christian Escobedo, have been terrific four-year players who have given so much to this program," Mandakas said.

"I am very proud of this group. They played so hard tonight."

The Glenbard North Regional final between Conant and third-seeded St. Charles East starts at 5:30 p.m. Friday.