Round Lake sets its sights on conference title

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The North Suburban Conference Prairie Division title in boys soccer has passed back and forth between Round Lake and Lakes for the last seven years.

Round Lake won the division in 2012, 2010, 2009 and 2008; while Lakes won last year, and also in 2011 and 2007.

This year, it just might be Round Lake’s turn again, as the visiting Panthers took a huge step in that direction by beating Lakes 2-1 in a game in which the winners had much the better play.

That leaves Round Lake 3-0 in the division, while Lakes is 1-1-1. Antioch (3-0) plays at Round Lake on Thursday at 6:15 p.m. in what amounts to the division championship game. Antioch (2005 and 2006) was the last team other than Round Lake or Lakes to win the NSC Prairie crown.

“It seems like the Prairie Division is always about Lake,” said Round Lake’s Freddie Ramirez, whose goal in the third minute put his team up 1-0 on Tuesday. “Winning the division is one of our goals, so this is a big win. Now we have to keep at it. We have another big game on Thursday. We have to play exactly like we did tonight: stay positive and try to maintain possession. If we do that, we’ll be good.”

Round Lake coach Hugo Tellez agreed.

“This has always been a big game. To win the Prairie, you have to go through Round Lake or Lakes. At the end of the day, though, it’s just a win. To win the division outright, we have to keep winning.”

Christian Vazquez assisted on Round Lake’s first goal, and then broke the 1-1 tie in the sixth minute of the second half.

“I needed to do something to give a lift to my team and get us the win. Fortunately it went in,” Vazquez said. “We really wanted to win this game. My teammates were playing hard, and we stayed positive from start to finish.”

As for setting up Remirez for the early goal, Vazquez said, “The start is really important. It can set the tone for the game. To me that assist was better than the goal.”

On the Lakes side, veteran coach Kevin Kullby noted superior play by his defense gave his team a chance to steal the game.

“To the credit of our defense, the score could have been worse,” he said. “Our back four did a commendable job, along with our goalie. In a sense, they got lucky on their second goal with the deflection off their player, but they made their luck with the pressure they put on us.”

Lakes’ back line Tuesday was Brandon deBoer, Ryan Kalekian, Derek Espinosa, and Parker Edwards.

“We gave up an early goal in both halves,” Kullby noted. “That’s been a bit of a problem for us in a number of games.”

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