WOODSTOCK – The Woodstock boys soccer team believed momentum was finally on its side.
Trailing host Woodstock North by two goals as halftime approached in a game North won, 5-1, on Thursday, Blue Streaks freshman Matt Shook knocked in a loose ball in front of the net with three minutes remaining to get them on the scoreboard. The Blue Streaks came out of the break energized and nearly scored the equalizer six minutes into the second half if not for a great one-on-one save by Thunder goalkeeper Ricky Rodriguez.
After Aaron Jones’ goal midway through the half put North ahead 3-1, Rodriguez delivered another clutch save off a rebound that initially richocheted off the crossbar. Woodstock couldn’t recover from the wasted opportunities, and the Thunder were prepared to not let them back in the game. North added two more goals in the final 14 minutes to seal the Fox Valley Conference Fox Division win.
Four different North players scored, led by junior forward Josh Jandron’s two goals. Senior forward Victor Ortiz had three assists. Ryan Allori and Luis Balleno also scored for North (9-10-1 overall, FVC Fox 3-2).
Rodriguez, who made 14 saves, said he tried to stay focused and remember what he learned in practice when going against Woodstock in one-on-one situations. These two teams meet again in a regional semifinal Oct. 23.
“What made this a big game is that we played on our home field and this is one of the biggest rivalries,” Rodriguez said. “We’re prepared now for them in regionals. This is in the past now.”
The loss likely spoiled Woodstock’s bid for a share of the FVC Fox title. The Blue Streaks (6-12-1, 3-2) play Grayslake Central, which sits atop the division with a 4-0 mark Tuesday.
The Rams have two division games remaining.
Woodstock coach Mike Golda didn’t think his team overlooked North ahead of what was potentially a big game against the Rams. After all, the Thunder beat the Blue Streaks twice last season, including knocking them out of the playoffs.
“I thought making it 2-1 was going to give us that spark,” Golda said. “We played possession pretty well and it seemed to carry on into the second half. ... Just not converting on our chances in the second half, I think we kind of buried ourselves and [Woodstock North] grabbed the momentum.”
After watching Woodstock cut the Thunder’s lead to one, North coach Lauren Farley implored her team during halftime to maintain its intensity and continue playing hard. Farley felt the Thunder delivered on their mantra of 80 minutes of intensity.
“Our guys in the middle were playing perfect balls today,” Jandron said. “We just connected with it today and all played as one.”