Teammates had Konrad Wasilewski convinced his blue shoes were the secret to a hat trick that enabled Jacobs to defeat Huntley 3-0 in a Thursday’s Fox Valley Valley matchup.
Golden Ealges coach A.J. Cappello was more inclined to believe in something else, crediting his senior with persistence and hard work to overcome his scoring issues.
In a game where both teams were desperately seeking offense, a victory, and some momentum for the final stretch of the regular season, Jacobs (4-11-1, 1-1) overcame an initial deficit and also regained a lead to edge the visiting Red Raiders (2-8-4, 0-1).
“My lucky (blue) shoes gave out last season and maybe I wasn’t confident earlier this year, but I finally went back to the old brand and color,” Wasilewski said. “All I know right now is that it feels great for us to come out with a victory and to put three into the back of the net.”
Both squads have struggled with finishes as the Golden Eagles were previously outscored 30-14 and had six shutout losses. Huntley was being outscored 19-10 and had been shut out five times.
After a scoreless first half, the Red Raiders caught a break just 2:59 into the second half when Angel Sanchez’s cross was mishandled by Jacobs goalie Eduardo Guimaray and Allan Barrientos pounced on the loose ball.
The host Golden Eagles countered within three minutes as Noah Melick got the ball upfield and found Colin Walsh for a shot that produced an easy putback for Wasilewski. Five minutes later, the junior struck a 21-yard laser from the left wing inside the far-right post.
“The first one was a deflection and I saw the keeper out of place and put it on net,” Wasilewski said. “The second one, I just let it rip and watched as it dipped just right.”
There was 20:47 left to be played when Huntley got an equalizer off a textbook cross. Irwin Bhathal’s ball found Max Walsh in place for a seven-yard header.
“We worked on those all day [Wednesday],” Walsh admitted. “Irwin had a great service right over their defender and I was able to time my jump to aim it down and to the right where their goalie couldn’t get it.”
Huntley’s Michael Parks, who took over in net after Andrew Fulcer worked the first half, made an impressive diving block on another Jacobs left wing blast. The Red Raider goalkeeper then withstood consecutive corner kicks.
However, Nick Voss was able to set up Wasilewski in the mifddle and after cutting back to his left, he booted an 11-yarder.
“Konrad had a slow start to the season, but to his credit he worked through it,” Cappello said. “All three of those were hustle goals. He got himself in the right spot on the first one, cracked a great shot from the wing, and outworked a defender to slot the last one.”
“Our second goal was a really good cross and showed what we’re capable of,” Huntley coach Kris Grabner said. “We worked on finishing throughout practice but they’ve got understand you must make the run 10 out of 10 times, because the one time you don’t, that’ll be the score that gets away.”