Streamwood looks to slow Batavia
Bulldogs unbeaten in last 3 games
By Chris Walker
If anything, the stretch that Streamwood is in the midst of is atypical for high school soccer.
The Sabres are scoring plenty, but they’re also getting scored on.
They’ve scored 10 goals in their previous four games.
The problem is that they’re giving up too many -- 15 during that same stretch. The Sabres have split the four games during this timespan and sit in fifth place in the Upstate Eight Conference River Division at 0-1-2 and 6-6-2 overall. They travel to league foe Batavia (6-4-3, 1-1-1), which is tied for third with Larkin, on Tuesday.
“It’s usually a pretty good game when we play them,” Streamwood coach Matt Polovin said. “They’ve got some pretty solid players. We played a good one against them here last year. It’s always tough to go Batavia though because the field is so narrow. We’ll practice on our grass field (Monday) to get ready.”
The Sabres have sputtered the past couple weeks after a solid start to the season. With the calendar turning to October on Thursday, Polovin hopes they put together a nice little run.
“We started off well but then went downhill a bit,” he said. “I think some of that has been being young and inexperienced, with the schedule.”
Senior forward Donnie Sosa continues to lead the Sabres.
“He’s taken control of the team and been our leader out there,” Polovin said. “As a four-year starter he’s our go-to guy, and when we need to get a goal he seems to get one.”
Junior midfieler Edwin Rueda has taken charge for the Sabres as well and will look to lead them to the road victory.
“He’s a playmaker who is technically very good,” Polovin said. “He’s a good little center mid who can score and distribute very well. He’s really stepped up.”
Batavia (6-4-3) is enjoying a three-game unbeaten streak.
After suffering a tough 1-0 loss to Tri-Cities rival and current league points leader St. Charles East on Sept. 19, the Bulldogs have beaten Elgin, 4-3, tied West Aurora 1-1, and most recently took care of Oswego East, 3-0, on Saturday.
Luke Laurich, Connor Craney and Nathan Carey all scored in the win against the Wolves.
“I would think it would be a competitive game,” Batavia coach Mark Gianfrancesco said of the Streamwood matchup. “I think we’re in every game right now and you could argue that if we put a couple goals away in a lot of those games, because we’ve created some opportunities, that results would be different. The boys are working hard, focused on our task at hand and staying positive.”
The Bulldogs have remained relatively healthy this season and continue to receive good contributions throughout the lineup.
“Several guys have stepped up recently,” Gianfrancesco said. “David DiBiase had some key goals last week, and Matt Allen has been playing pretty solid. Both those guys are playing well. Sal Garcia, in the middle, has been our most consistent player. The whole group is really coming into their own.”
A key to Tuesday’s game will be the field surface. While the Sabres are accustomed to their home turf, they’ll be playing on Batavia’s natural surface and smaller field. Other than familiarity, it’s not much of an advantage for the Bulldogs though.
“We’ve played on it more so we know it,” Gianfrancesco said. “It doesn’t set up necessarily for the style we’d like to play. We’re not the biggest team so a bigger field would play more to our advantage. We’re more of a finesse team and more space would open things up for what we want to do.”
Batavia has gotten the better of Streamwood in recent meetings, earning a 2-0 shutout last September and a 1-0 win in 2013. The Sabres last beat the Bulldogs, 4-2, in 2012.
Leyden’s 6-0 blanking of Streamwood earlier this year wasn’t just surprising but historically noteworthy too. The Sabres hadn’t been shut out by five-or-more goals since a 5-0 loss to Maine West in 2012.
Batavia has not played on a turf field this season and won’t until October.