Witkowski’s goal nets Batavia winWest Aurora goalie Alex Guillen blocks Batavia's John Barnes shot on goal on Wednesday at West Aurora High School. Terence Guider-Shaw~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 31, 2011 10:06PM
In an early season battle of undefeated teams, Batavia rallied from an early deficit Wednesday night to pull out a 2-1 victory over West Aurora.
The victory in spectacular fashion with the Bulldogs’ Cody Witkowski executing a bicycle-style kick with just under 20 minutes for the go-ahead strike before Batavia fought off West Aurora’s attempts at an equalizer. The first road victory of the season boosted the Bulldogs to 3-0-0 while the host Blackhawks dipped to 6-1-0 with the last five triumphs being part of their first-place showing in the Oregon Invitational.
“We gutted that one out,” Batavia coach Mark Gianfrancesco exhaled after the contest. “Thankfully we’ve matured as a team because I think last year this would have been a 1-1 draw or maybe even gone the other way.”
Part of that maturity for the Bulldogs was shaking off West Aurora’s quick opening strike. The contest was only 3:21 old when Danny Talancon set up James Brink for a 10-yard blast past Batavia starting goalie Ben Steskal.
Witkowski tried negating that strike with a 25-yard rocket that Blackhawk keeper Alex Guillen tipped over the crossbar. Talancon booted a shot through traffic only to have Steskal tip it past the post in what became a back-and-forth tango.
But with 13:53 left before intermission, Michael Rueffer’s long throw-in was headed home from five yards out on the right side by Anthony Torres.
“Rueffer’s long throw was right on the mark and I just beat the defender to it,” Torres explained. “We didn’t panic being down one and the key is that we’ve really matured and play a lot more combinations. That shows in three good wins.”
While Rueffer stepped into goal for the second half, Batavia was on the attack for much of the second half and it paid off with 19:32 left in regulation. Cody Balogh’s long through ball was flicked toward the net by Cuautle and when Guillen tipped it up, Witkowski went airborne for the bicycle kick.
“It was instinct, not something I practice but one of those things every soccer player dreams of. After I landed I turned and saw it in the back of the net and was shocked,” Witkowski admitted. “Being 3-0 is a result of a lot of hard work and the fact that we just keep battling.”
West Aurora coach Joe Sustersic thought Rueffer’s play in goal was a key for Batavia as was the Bulldogs’ experience.
“They’ve got some good senior leaders who didn’t panic and their was some real good goalkeeping in the second half when their guy swallowed some balls that we were late to,” Sustersic said. “Unfortunately we had four kids suspended because of team policy issues and had two JV kids and two managers even get into the contest. Considering all of that, I’m happy with our effort and for the most part we executed our game plan, but had two mental breakdowns that cost us.”