Eric Whatley, Lemont blank rival Bremen

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Lemont fell short in its bid for a South Suburban Blue title last season mainly thanks to a 1-0 loss to champion Bremen. This year, the Indians already had a league loss in a crossover against Eisenhower, and came into Thursday’s rematch with Bremen needing a victory.

“They beat us last year and they’re our biggest rival,” Lemont’s Eric Whatley said. “We wanted to make sure we stay in the conference race and we couldn’t lose this one. We accomplished our goal.”

The host Indians scored twice in the first 24 minutes and held on the rest of the way for a 2-0 win.

Whatley anchored a strong defense for Lemont (5-2-2, 2-1) and helped create the initial goal in the ninth minute.

Off a corner, John Bermele sent a well-placed cross into the box where Whatley sent a header off the crossbar. Mike Prasauskas was there to pounce on the rebound and put it in.

“I just listened to what our coaches tell us,” Prasauskas said. “To always follow through and stay with a play. This game was going to determine if it’s going be a tough a season for us or if we’ve got a chance to make it a good one. We really wanted the win and we came out strong at the start.”

Bremen (4-4, 2-2) fell in a bigger hole in the 24th minute when Whatley’s free kick found Teddy Trifunovski in the box. Trifunovski was tripped up and drew a penalty, then converted the kick for a 2-0 lead.

Connor Koehler made two saves in the shutout, the highlight a leaping stop on a David Strom header late in the first half.

The Braves surged in the second half, spending most of the final 40 minutes on the attack and earning three corner kicks and a pair of free kicks from striking distance, but put just one non-threatening shot on goal.

“We played a solid 40 minutes, but it’s too bad a match is 80 minutes long,” Bremen coach Steve Granat said. “We’re just so inconsistent right now. We’re young and hopefully this was a learning experience. Lemont is Lemont .We know what they do, and it’s still such a challenge to stop them.”

Whatley, Prasauskas and Nick Simaidis anchored the back line for Lemont.

“We closed the game out poorly,” Lemont coach Rick Prangen. “We let them dictate play in the second half and our kids should know that a game against Bremen isn’t over just because it’s 2-0.

“Our defense held up. Eric Whatley has been really stepping up for us and I think we’re starting to jell on defense.”

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