Late rally lifts LarkinLarkin's Manny Aguilar (2) pushes the ball down field against Streamwood's Alejandro Avalos (7) Tuesday at Streamwood. | Kevin D. Sherman ~ For Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 20, 2011 9:49PM
When Larkin forward Erik Rodriguez failed to score late in Tuesday’s match after controlling the ball against three Streamwood defenders in the goal mouth for what seemed an eternity, it provided a warning to the Sabres.
The warning went unheeded, though. A minute later, with 3:44 left, Rodriguez connected from in close off a great feed from Tony Escamilla and the visiting Royals had escaped with a 2-1 Upstate Eight River victory at Millennium Field.
“You give him the space and he’s going to finish,” Larkin coach Ken Hall said of Rodriguez. “I mean, Erik is an all-state player and he’s our leading scorer this year and he’s the main reason why the record is what we have this year and our ranking is good.
“If anybody is going to make them pay, it’s him, and he did there at the end.”
The Sabres (2-11-1, 0-3) and goalie Santiago Guerrero controlled play much of the night before Rodriguez and Escamilla provided the late flurry.
With Streamwood’s Mario Rodriguez providing a goal from in front off a corner kick by Ivan Vivero, the Sabres ended a scoreless stalemate with just 19:30 remaining.
However, Escamilla tied the match five minutes later from 20 yards out on a rebound of a deflected shot. He drove a low hooking ball that caught Guerrero by surprise because it came from behind a screen.
Then Rodriguez hit the winner for the Royals (8-3-2, 1-0-1). Roberto Torres got control and found Escamilla, who dropped it in behind the defense where Torres had just a few yards to shoot point-blank without being harassed.
“I got a good first touch on the ball, which gave me enough space to take the shot,” he said. “I was lucky enough to get the ball like that.
“It was our first conference win so it was very important for the team.”
Streamwood outshot Larkin 19-11, had more corner kicks (8-4) and received more free kicks (14-9), but controlling the ball wasn’t enough.
“That’s been the problem with us, is just finishing,” said Sabres coach Matt Polovin. “We get in their third of the field and we just can’t put it in.
“Technically, we can move the ball around beautifully, all around the field, and do what some of best teams do.”
Guerrero made 11 saves, while Royals goalie Jose Resendiz stopped seven.
“Jose has been our rock in the back all season,” Polovin said. “He’s a big, imposing kid, very quick, with great footwork. Technically, he’s a tremendous goalie. I just wish we could give him a little more help, especially when you play a team like Larkin.”
The match was played in memory of Chelsea Lloyd, the former Streamwood JV soccer coach who died earlier in the month. Proceeds raised at the match were donated to a scholarship fund in her honor.