Metea Valley and Leyden met for the first time on Saturday, with neither team knowing what to expect.
One thing players from both sides were sure of, though, was that they didn’t anticipate a blowout.
Yet that’s exactly what happened as Leyden scored three goals in the first half and cruised to a 4-0 victory in the opening round of the PespiCo Showdown at the Lyons Soccer Complex in La Grange.
“I’m surprised all the way around,” Leyden coach Mark Valintis said. “We struggle a little bit sometimes scoring goals, and to come out and put three in the first half against a very good team, I’m very happy about that.
“It could have been much different if some of their chances had gone in. It could have been a real shootout so we were fortunate that they missed them in the first half and we capitalized on ours.”
Metea Valley (5-2-1), which was playing without three starters who were taking the ACT, had several breakaway chances, but Michael Adams put three open shots over the crossbar and the Mustangs had a goal wiped out by an offsides call.
The Eagles, however, made sure not to miss on some beautifully created chances.
David Senk gave Leyden (4-1-1) the early lead when he headed home a cross from Erik Rodriguez just 3:23 into the game.
“That was definitely the best cross I’ve seen him give all year, probably one of the best we’ve done as a team,” Senk said. “That is something we’ve been working on in practice, so it was nice to see that kind of a product in a game, especially against a great Metea team.”
Senk enjoyed the first two-goal game of his career as he scored again off another Rodriguez assist at the 34:46 mark of the second half. Rodriguez had a career-high three assists as he also set up Christian Sosnowski’s goal that made it 3-0 with 7:44 to go in the first half.
Angel Lopez had the other goal for Leyden, taking a long pass from Hector Herrera and beating his man into the box before scoring on a six-yard shot at the 25:19 mark of the first half.
“We just kept our heads up,” Sosnowski said. “We came in here wanting to win the tournament so we had confidence. I told my guys just trust each other, pass the ball around and whenever you have a shot, just take it.”
Metea Valley didn’t have any trouble shooting, but finishing has been a problem lately for the Mustangs.
“We changed some things around and it ended up biting us a little bit, but the biggest issue is it doesn’t matter if we lose 1-0, 4-0 or it’s 0-0 tie; we’re not scoring goals so guys have to step up and start scoring,” Metea Valley coach Josh Robinson said. “We talked about the kids staying positive. Sometimes they’ll miss and put their head down.
“I try to tell them about [Chris] Freeman last year. Freeman missed 50 times a game but he never got down. You have to have confidence as a forward to put the ball in the net, and it’s that simple.”