Grab a dictionary and look up desire, intensity, hunger or hustle. Whatever the choice, Batavia had it and St. Charles East didn’t on Tuesday in an Upstate Eight River game.
That’s why the Bulldogs gained a 1-0 victory Tuesday over St. Charles East, rated No. 1 in the Chicago Sun-Times boys soccer poll. Batavia improved to 7-1-1, 3-0 and St. Charles East dropped to 8-1, 2-1.
“We wanted this one and came here knowing how strong East is and remembering last year when they beat us 5-0,” said Ian Larsen, whose eighth goal of the season proved to be the difference.
The Saints’ Taylor Ortiz had two great opportunities in the opening 15 minutes but it was the No. 14 Bulldogs who got on the scoreboard at 19:10.
“Adam (Heinz) battled real hard to get the ball and make a touch pass back to me. My instincts kicked in and I did a pivot turn for the shot, and it went under their keeper’s arm,” Larsen said.
Batavia goalie Kevin Fiddelke and his backline teammates made that strike hold up in a hotly contested game that saw St. Charles East own a 19-17 advantage for overall attempts, but the Bulldogs up 12-10 in shots on goal.
The Saints also had an 8-1 edge for corner kicks. Through Batavia’s first eight games, net time was always split, but Fiddelke was the only goalie available for the Bulldogs and the solo shutout now gets added on to five shared shutouts.
“Our back line deserves so much credit in terms of how they defended East’s set pieces and corners,” Fiddelke said. “They showed a ton of energy and I just wanted to match their effort.”
Over the weekend in the Morton Invitational, Batavia defeated defending Class 3A champion Edwardsville and battled Rochester to a 0-0 deadlock only to come up short in a 6-5 penalty kick shootout to decide the first-place trophy,
“Following that tournament with this performance is the result of a team effort,” coach Mark Gianfrancesco said. “Kevin in goal did a solid job, our back line was once again strong, Kevin (Collins) helped us control the midfield, win 50-50 balls, and he made a big difference helping out when they pressed the attack. Not only did Ian get the goal, but he kept rallying the troops.”
“I know it sounds cliche to talk about intensity, but the bottom line is we didn’t have enough of it,” St. Charles East coach Paul Jennison said. “Batavia did what they needed to for the win. Maybe this will be a positive for us; maybe the ranking, publicity entered one or two minds and hopefully they learned we can’t blame anyone else.”