After falling behind by a goal late in Best of the West Tournament opener against Sandburg, Waubonsie Valley knew it didn’t want to start with a loss.
So in the final 10 minutes Tuesday, the Warriors used corner kicks to their advantage to pull out a 2-1 win over the Eagles at Naperville Central.
Both goals happened on corners from junior Leo Mendoza that senior Sohum Buch put away. The first one came with 10 minutes left to tie the game, and the winner came with 7:20 left. Buch now has three goals on the young season.
“In the beginning of the second half, I knew we were having difficulties on corners,” Buch said. “We figured out a different strategy to attack on corners and it worked out well.
“We were having a lot of contact with the other team in the box and that’s what was stopping us. I just had to get away from my man. We had to score. We couldn’t start the tournament out that way.”
For the first 68 minutes, neither team could get anything going, until Sandburg (2-1) broke the ice. On a direct kick, the Eagles started too early and were given a chance to set it up again. It proved fortuitous as sophomore Marty Manzke found fellow sophomore Dan Rohder for the game’s first goal with 12 minutes left.
“Usually after a goal, you lose some energy,” Waubonsie coach Jose Garcia said. “When they got that goal, our energy was down. Fortunately we found it somewhere and pulled it out. We were fortunate we got those two goals.”
After taking the lead, Waubonsie (2-0-1) made it difficult for Sandburg to score again and neither team had many quality chances in the final 7:20.
“I don’t think we played our best game,” Garcia said. “Obviously, it wasn’t the best soccer I’ve ever seen in my life. But it was who wanted it more at the end. It came down to set plays. It wasn’t pretty, but we got the win, so I’m happy about that.”
The Eagles were ranked seventh in the latest Sun-Times’ poll, while Waubonsie was unraked. Garcia said the win gives the team a “boost of confidence” going into Thursday’s 7 p.m. game against Bartlett in tournament play. Sandburg plays host Naperville Central in the 5 p.m. game Thursday.
“We definitely were an underrated team this year,” Buch said. “I feel as if we really do have the potential to do much better this year. I can see that in our playing, for sure.”