Wednesday’s Upstate Eight game between host Geneva and West Chicago was a battle for survival in the River Division.
The Vikings survived West Chicago’s furious late attack for a 1-0 victory.
Geneva’s Jason Lagger boomed a 28-yard direct free kick inside of the left post with 21:43 left before halftime. It was the senior’s team-high seventh goal of the year.
“I was paying attention to their keeper and thought he was lined up too much behind his wall, so he might not see it right away,” Lagger said. “It felt good when I struck it and sometimes it just feels right coming off your foot. This was big because it was a battle from the very beginning. It’s one of the best efforts we’ve had all year.”
It certainly took a lot of work by goalie Duncan Turnbull and the Viking defense to make that goal stand up. West Chicago didn’t have a shot on frame for the first half and had four along with several other missed chances late in the match.
“My back four (defenders) kept them away and limited their shots. It’s our third shutout in a row,” said Turnbull, who has four for the season. “A key was to keep communicating and know where the ball is at all times.”
“The first half we generated some nice opportunities, the second half we looked a little frantic,” Geneva coach Ryan Estabrook said. “I was reminiscing (with his assistant) on how the last two seasons, we gave up a goal late and lost either a lead or a tie. So holding on for the last 15 minutes isn’t ideal, but I’m happy we grinded it out.”
West Chicago coach Jose Villa dismissed the notion that the tough battle with St. Charles North the day before at the PepsiCo Showdown was a factor.
“Three games in three days, I’d do it again because the Pepsi is a great tourney and I told them it’s a test of our mental toughness,” Villa said. “We want to play great teams every chance we get and I thought we showed a lot of heart and character tonight.”
Geneva (5-2-1, 2-1-1) has unbeaten Batavia (3-0-0 in Upstate Eight River) next on the schedule with hopes someone else can tag St. Charles North (2-0-0) with a league loss.
West Chicago (4-4-1, 1-2-1) has division games with both of those teams.