Plainfied S. seeks turnaround vs. Bartlett
By Steve Millar
Sometimes, one rough day is all it takes to derail a team.
That’s a fate that Plainfield South coach Bryant Williams is hoping to avoid.
After rolling to a 7-1-1 start, the Cougars ran out of gas in Saturday’s 5-0 loss to Romeoville. A 2-0 setback followed Tuesday against Bolingbrook.
Plainfield South will look to break out of the slump when it hosts Bartlett at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
“You can’t let one tough game turn into two, three, four losses,” Williams said. “That’s the challenge now, to just accept the result, move past it and bounce back.”
The Cougars (7-3-1) and Bartlett (0-5-3) will stage an atypical nonconference weekday clash between teams from different areas of Chicagoland.
“We haven’t played Bartlett in quite a while,” Williams said. “It’s exciting to get a team like that on our schedule. Normally, we look to schedule more sectional opponents for our out-of-conference games, but when a team like Bartlett calls and says they have an opening, you’re not going to turn that down.
“It’s fun for the kids to see a different team that brings a different style of play.”
Despite the recent setbacks, Williams has had plenty of reasons to smile while watching his team play this season. The Cougars have already surpassed the six wins they finished with in 2016.
“These guys really play together well,” Williams said. “A lot of them hang out off the field. They want to play hard for each other. Since they’re all friends, they can communicate well and nobody gets their feelings hurt if someone has something critical to say.”
The Cougars have been able to generate plenty of offense with senior midfielder Dominic Skrip, senior forward Anthony Cervelli and junior forward Anthony Marmolejo leading the way.
“Skrip is great dishing the ball from the middle of the field,” Williams said. “He’s got a really good shot, too, though, so we’ve been on him to take more shots. He’s been looking to score more.
“He scored two goals Friday night against Joliet West, so that’s a big plus if we can get him scoring for us.”
Williams has been tinkering with his defense of late.
“We want to shore up our ‘D’ a little bit,” he said. “We’ve made some changes and we’ve moved some guys around. We’re trying to find a consistent, strong unit of four players there.”
Bartlett, meanwhile, is still searching for its first win, but the Hawks have been tested by an extremely difficult schedule, which has included games against no. 5 Naperville Central and no. 10 Streamwood.
Bartlett played to 1-1 ties in each of their last two contests against St. Charles East and Glenbard North.
Aside from a 5-1 setback to Naperville Central, the Hawks have played well defensively, allowing nine goals over its other seven games.
The young Hawks have gotten a boost from sophomore midfielder Hernan Garcia, who scored in the Sept. 7 tie with Glenbard North and junior defender Rudy Reyes, who provided Barlett’s lone goal Saturday against St. Charles East.
A big question for Bartlett will be who’s in the net. Joey Dimas, typically a forward, has played goalkeeper the last two games and done an admirable job, but would give the Hawks a boost in the field if sophomore goalkeepers Zachary Rebac or Jeremy Taylor are able to return from injuries.
Regardless, Plainfield South will not overlook Bartlett.
“They may have struggled so far this season, but when you look at their schedule, you see that they’ve played some great teams,” he said. “They’ve been competitive in pretty much all their games, so we know they’re going to be a tough test for us.”