CRYSTAL LAKE – The Dundee-Crown soccer team approached its Fox Valley Conference Valley Division opener carrying plenty of pressure.
As the only remaining undefeated area team, the Chargers set out to score first on the road Thursday in what finished as a 3-1 win over Crystal Lake South.
For a team that has so many options offensively, it was senior forward Gerardo Escorza who outran the Gators defense on a perfect through ball from teammate Francisco Nava, and chipped it past South's goalkeeper to give D-C the lead with 21:47 left in the first half. Escorza scored another goal less than six minutes later on a sliding kick in front of the net off a pass from senior Juan Ramos for a 2-0 Chargers lead.
"I'm so happy, we have a good team," Escorza said. "I'm proud of my team. We needed to score goals."
D-C (13-0-1, 1-0 FVC Valley) dictated the tempo and did a good job finding open space in the midfield. The Chargers' ability to keep possession helped prevent a South comeback.
"We wanted to make sure we got on top first and then just kind of float from there and got it going," D-C coach Rey Vargas said. "It doesn't really matter where we're playing, but obviously it's more important when we're away, because we're not on our home field."
Despite hosting a big game against a division opponent and one of the area's best teams, the Gators (6-7-3, 1-1) came out flat, which perplexed South coach Brian Allen.
"For whatever reason, we came out flat," Allen said. "When we work hard, good things follow. But today, credit D-C. They played like this was a mission and rose to the challenge and put us on our heels. We're not very good when we're on our heels."
D-C tacked on an insurance goal with 25:19 left off a throw in along the sideline near South's net. Junior midfielder Alex Ramirez tossed the ball, which found the head of senior defender Carlos Ramos.
Ramos headed the ball off the right post, and Gators goalkeeper Gus Alvarez (eight saves) pinned the ball against the post before it landed in the net while appearing to have kept it from crossing the line. However, the referees ruled the ball had crossed the goal line to give D-C a 3-0 lead. Allen was not pleased with the call, and he was carded after arguing with the refs.
Allen ultimately was hoping to spark his team and get them to fight back. The Gators scored with 6:10 left in the game on a goal by junior midfielder Ryan Russmann, assisted by senior Gary Sexson, to make it 3-1.
"Russmann's been on fire for us lately, he got another one and credit the kid for working hard," Allen said. "But we have to manage the game and we need our (key) players to step up and they didn't today so hopefully they will the rest of the year."