Waukegan's Miguel Cortez (center) and Jesus Medina (right) celebrate Muguel's goal in the first half of their game against Lakes. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 30, 2011 9:48PM
The artificial-turf field and the lights were supposed to be the stars Tuesday night.
Instead, it was Waukegan’s suddenly-surging soccer team that shined the brightest.
The Bulldogs put on an offensive show and knocked off a talented Lakes team 5-3 in a nonconference match.
Waukegan has now won four straight after staggering out of the blocks with two horrible losses to Warren and Carmel.
This was the first game Waukegan ever played on the pitch at Waukegan SportsPark, which is a new facility that was put together by the Waukegan Park District.
The Bulldogs will another game on the pitch later this fall, and the school’s football team is scheduled to play Glenbrook South at the SportsPark if difficulties with renting temporary bleachers can be worked out.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Bulldogs senior captain Miguel Cortez (two goals). “We were really looking forward to coming out here and playing on the turf. We played faster and were able to work the ball around better tonight.”
Waukegan usually plays home games on the school’s football field which has no lights.
So this was a bonus and a thrill, and perhaps a look into the future of Bulldog athletics.
“It’s a nice facility,” said Waukegan coach Joe Martinez. “It looks like a fun thing for the kids to do.”
The only problem was that the smallish bleachers that were on one side of the pitch weren’t nearly enough to accommodate the crowd.
Both teams brought large fan contingents, likely because the game was played in the evening and at the new facility.
Once the match started, Waukegan was solid.
The score went from 1-0 to 1-1 to 2-1 and to 3-1 at halftime. In the second half, it advanced to 3-2, 4-2, 4-3 and then finally 5-3.
Besides Cortez’s goals, also scoring for the Bulldogs were Javier Miranda, Jesus Medina and Daniel Diaz.
Lakes’ goals came from Jonathan Stanley, Allen Johnson and Mark Gerrits.
Lakes is now 2-3 on the season.
The Eagles had some chances after pulling within 4-3, but couldn’t get the equalizer.
Diaz’s clincher in the 75th minute came off a corner kick from Medina that he banged home from in front.
Waukegan athletic director Sam Taylor was on hand to see the historic contest.
“It’s a great facility; there’s no way around that,” he said. “We gave the park district a list of dates and they worked well with us to get some games out here.
“Putting on a soccer game is relatively simple. Putting on a football game is a lot more complicated.”