Powered by two first-half Edwin Rueda goals, Streamwood chalked up a 3-0 shutout over Elgin in Wednesday’s Upstate Eight Conference River showdown.
While the host Sabres improved to 5-1 overall and 2-1 in the UEC River, their neighbors endured a second consecutive loss after starting the year 3-0-2. In addition to the 3-2-2 overall mark, the Maroons dipped to 0-2 in league play on the heels of a 3-2 heartbreaking final minute loss to Batavia on Tuesday.
Streamwood claimed the lead 13:13 into the contest when standout Nestor Ascencio set up Rueda for an eight-yard strike from left of the goal. Rueda boosted his season goal total to five just 2:02 prior to intermission with an 18-yard direct free kick that sailed inside the left post.
“Nestor put the ball down in front of me and I was confident I could slip it past the keeper,” Rueda said in regard to the first strike. “The second goal, I saw some space inside the post and just made up my mind to put it there.”
Early in the second half, the Sabres missed on opportunities to go up three goals, including a cross that sailed through the Elgin crease untouched and Ascencio having a free kick saved by Maroon goalie Flavio James. The Elgin keeper also came up big with a tip save over the bar on another Rueda rocket.
“I thought we possessed the ball well, but what we really wanted to do was be more direct,” Sabres coach Matt Polovin said. “It’s a rivalry game, a conference win, so we’ll take it. Elgin is a scrappy team, but I thought they wore down over the last 20 minutes and didn’t have their legs.”
Maroon boss David Borg couldn’t disagree much.
“We really laid it out there last night against Batavia, but that’s not meant as an excuse, we still bounced back and I thought we played better in the second half, had a little more energy early on. But it comes down to you’ve got to score to win ballgames,” Borg said. “No corner kicks was a telling statistic. We didn’t play our usual game of having our midfielders get the ball to the corners for crosses.”
Elgin did have some second-half chances, but Phil Lewy took over from Sergio Blanco in goal to give the Sabres their third clean sheet for the year and second in a row. Christian Vences capped the scoring with 2:01 remaining when he blasted home a free kick from just outside the penalty box.
“It’s a good win and better to have a shutout, but we didn’t play up to our level,” Vences insisted. “Beating them in the regional (championship) meant they were hungry to beat us, but we didn’t let that happen. I know we’re more dedicated this year and we can go further (in the post-season), having that (2012) plaque on the wall means we want another.”