Neuqua Valley edges out BenetBenet Academy defender Robert Tomecek heads the ball past Neuqua Valley forward Kevin Skrip at Naperville North High School in Naperville, Ill., on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2011.
| Corey R. Minkanic~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 1, 2011 10:20PM
The quality of soccer was not quite where either Neuqua Valley coach Tony Kees or Benet coach Sean Wesley wanted it, but both Benet and Neuqua took steps toward improving when they met in their Best of the West Tournament match.
The Wildcats scored a 1-0 win against the Redwings on a steamy Thursday night at Naperville North, but both teams took away positives.
Kevin Skrip scored the lone goal came in the 46th minute. The goal began deep in Neuqua’s end as the Redwings were applying pressure, but the ball was quickly played over the top and it caused a bit of a scramble at midfield where Skrip broke free and all that was between him and the goal was Benet goalie Kyle Dal Santo. Skrip made a run at the ball and beat Dal Santo about 35 yards out and Skrip just had to tap the ball into the net.
“We’ve been working on playing long balls up to the forwards and it turned out to be a good ball,” Skrip said. “It’s taken some time for us to get the energy going, but when we made good plays tonight we just fed off of that energy and that is what we did tonight.”
Kees was impressed with his side’s ability to apply consistent pressure – especially once the Wildcats (2-1-1) had the lead.
“We said to guys in the heart and desire department we did very well,” Kees said. “We gutted it out and did what was necessary to close out a quality side. It is important for our forwards to hold the ball up and do things and we did a lot of that late in the match.”
Benet (2-2) continues to sputter when it comes to finishing in the final third.
“We took nine shots and had two shots on goal,” Wesley said. “We’re not going to win a lot of games with two shots on goal. We’re trying to work through a new system and we just haven’t put it together, but I’m confident we’ll get there.”
Benet’s two shots came from Brad Bozych and his best chance came minutes before Skrip’s goal. Bozych was alone in the box with the ball, but Neuqua goalie Hunter Hollingshed came off his line and made a diving save on a Bozych shot attempt.
“When we want to we play nice combinations – we look good,” said Dal Santo, who made several nice saves to keep the Redwings in the match. “We need to become more creative up top.”
Benet will look to get things on track vs. Naperville North at 10 a.m. on Saturday. The Huskies beat York 6-0 in Thursday’s first match. Neuqua will meet York at noon.
The championship match is set for 6 p.m. Saturday at Naperville Central’s Memorial Stadium.