Wasted corner kicks. Crossbars and posts hit. Possible goals denied by strong saves.
Tinley Park saw a dozen scoring opportunities come up fruitless in the first 25 minutes of Tuesday’s match with Richards.
“It was definitely getting frustrating,” Tinley Park’s Danny Alejande said.
Finally, with a perfectly-executed corner kick on the Titans’ sixth corner, the deadlock was broken. Keaton Klaff crossed the corner to the far post where Steven Gonzalez headed it across the box to Jose Mendoza at the near post. Mendoza beat Richards goalie Christian Reyes.
“[Gonzalez] got a head on it and it came to me and I just put it in,” Mendoza said. “We had to start scoring. This was a big match – our first conference match.”
Tinley Park cruised from there, going on to a 3-0 win in a South Suburban crossover in Oak Lawn.
“That’s the problem we’ve been having, not putting goals away early,” Tinley Park coach Mike Boniface said. “We hit a ton of posts early. It was good to see, actually, because we’re normally hesitant to shoot on offense.”
Alejande, in his first season with the team after moving from Wisconsin, gave the Titans (3-0, 1-0) some breathing room with 34:11 left in the match.
On a counterattack, Sergio Zambrano fought off a defender to take the ball going into the box and slipped it to Alejande who was open in the middle of the field for an easy goal.
“We’re very fortunate to have two transfers [Alejande and Pedro Luarano, a transfer from Eisenhower] who are really helping us out,” Boniface said. “Danny, I’ve been telling everyone I can about him. He’s a great player.”
On the Titans’ third goal, Zambrano passed to Klaff, whose shot deflected off a defender high into the air and floated over the head of Reyes and in.
Reyes made eight saves for Richards (1-2, 0-1).
“We just made a couple mistakes that led to big plays,” Richards coach Dan Scanlan said. “They’re just better in the offensive third than we are.”