North Stars shut down Marmion
As much as St. Charles North soccer coach Eric Willson wouldn’t mind seeing his crew score much earlier, he’s OK if the outcome continues to stay the same.
For the second straight match, the North Stars went from carrying over a 0-0 halftime deadlock into a sudden three-goal barrage for a victory. In Monday’s case it was a 3-0 triumph over Marmion in the opening group-play round of the 23rd annual Barrington Classic. The win boosted North to 2-0 after having started the season with a 3-2 triumph at East Aurora that featured a trio of goals in a 4:20 span.
“The most important thing is that we’re staying committed to working hard and I think that wears an opponent down,” Willson said. “It requires being disciplined defensively and patience offensively. In that respect it really is a team effort to pull out a win.”
To some extent it was also playing the percentages as St. Charles North boasted a commanding advantage in overall attempts in both halves — 12-5 to start and 11-4 in the second half. Sooner or later that pressure had to pay off.
“They kept tightening up the pressure and unfortunately, it got to us,” Marmion senior captain Mick Maley said. “When Alex (Ruble) went out, at one point we had three sophomores on the back line and considering the skill players they’ve got, their experience and attack eventually was too much.”
In the 67th minute a scramble in front of the Marmion goal resulted in Matt Fricke setting up Mike Winhoffer for an eight-yard strike that tipped the battle in favor of the North Stars.
“Marmion was playing defense all match, so the key for us was not to lose focus,” Winhoffer said. “I picked out a position and when the ball came to me I just put it on net. There are a lot of good teams that can stay with us 40 or more minutes, but we don’t believe too many people can stay with us for all 80.”
Actually the Cadets weren’t able to hang longer than another two minutes as Tyler Davis upped the ante for the North Stars. Just as he did against East Aurora, two minutes after North’s first goal, he cranked on a shot from left of center, in this case an 18-yard blast.
“I just try to beat my defender enough to get open and take a good, hard shot,” Davis said in regard to his third goal of the season. “In this case I saw the back post was open and just went for it.”
Knowing it was an uphill battle on the scoreboard and time-wise, Marmion tried pushing forward a little more and that helped St. Charles North with a counter attack that saw Alex Behm take a chance on a 23-yard rocket in the 78th minute that added the cherry on top of the icing.
Credit for the shutout has to be shared by goalie Garrett Creasor and the entire North Stars back line which limited the Cadets to just four actual shots on goal, each of which was handled with ease by Creasor.
“No matter how many goals our offense scores, that zero on the other side is what we’re striving for on defense,” senior Drew Smith said. “We take a lot of pride in back on limiting the opponent’s chances overall and the quality of those shots as well.”
After an Upstate Eight Conference divisional crossover visit to Elgin today, St. Charles North continues Barrington tourney play on Wednesday with a major challenge in facing defending Class 3A state champion Rockford Boylan, which is also rated No. 5 in one national poll.
“We certainly didn’t possess the ball nearly as well as I would have liked, but quite frankly St. Charles North beat us mentally more than anything,” said Marmion coach Kevin O’Connor after his team moved to 1-1-1 on the season. “On the first goal we got caught watching and couldn’t recover. We clearly having some growing to do, but one of the reasons we play a difficult schedule and our thrilled to be able to keep coming back to this tournament is because it helps us with the process of improving, and that’s most important early in the season.”