WOODSTOCK – About 25 yards away from the goal, Woodstock North’s Damien Alonzo booted a free kick that curved over the top of Johnsburg’s wall of defenders and into the upper corner of the net.
In the words of North coach John Liuzzi, it was “one of the prettiest goals that I’ve seen struck by a high school player.”
The score gave the Thunder a two-goal cushion early in the second half, on the way to a 5-1 win over Johnsburg in Kishwaukee River Conference play. Alonzo showed little emotion after the goal, as if he’d done it a thousand times.
In a sense, he has.
“I keep on practicing,” Alonzo said. “Practice makes perfect. Try to curl it, try to hit it like [Lionel] Messi. Once in a while, you get it. I got it this time.”
For North (1-3, 1-0), it was the first victory of the season. The Thunder faced a tough early season schedule with losses to Nazareth, Glenbard South and Montini. The hope is that those games prepared the team for the KRC schedule.
“Taking some of those tough losses and those close games has helped us figure out what our weaknesses were and what we have to improve right away,” Liuzzi said.
North scored first on Jesus Diaz’s goal, assisted by Eliel Reynoso. The Skyhawks (1-3, 0-1) answered quickly with a goal from Noah Strote.
Strote had a breakaway chance and kicked the ball right at North goalkeeper Riley Bronson. Strote tripped over the sliding Bronson and both player went down, but the ball had just enough bounce left after the deflection to cross the line for a goal.
“He earned that goal,” Liuzzi said of Strote.
Strote and Bronson were both OK after the collision.
North’s Alan Castanon scored in the 27th minute and the Thunder led, 2-1, at halftime. Less than two minutes after halftime, Alonzo struck with his goal. Jesus Lopez scored twice in the final 10 minute to push the lead to 5-1.
“We knew 2-1 wasn’t going to be enough,” Liuzzi said. “We talked about how important it was to get that next goal and go from there. They did that.”
North controlled the possession for much of the game.
“What we’ve got to work on is our composure on the ball and, when we have it, keeping the ball,” Johnsburg coach Adam Bronars said. “We’re giving the ball away way too easy. When you’re playing against a team with as much quality as Woodstock North has and you give a ball away, it hurts us every time. That’s what happened today.”
Alonzo works on his free kicks every day after practice. Liuzzi said most teams learn pretty quickly that they need to put two defenders on the senior midfielder.
“We’re very lucky to have an athlete with his finesse and his ability on our team,” Liuzzi said. “He has a unique way of being able to see the field."
STAR OF THE GAME
Damien Alonzo, Woodstock North, sr., M
Alonzo scored a beautiful free kick goal less than two minutes after halftime to extend North’s lead to two goals. The Thunder went on to pick up a win, 5-1, against KRC foe Johnsburg.
1: The win marked North’s first of the 2019 season.
AND ANOTHER THING …
North defender David Cruz made a one-on-one goal-saving effort midway through the second half after Johnsburg’s Noah Strote beat the goalkeeper about 15 yards from the net.
“He played some great defensive minutes today for us,” North coach John Liuzzi said.
Woodstock North 5, Johnsburg 1
Jbg 1 0 – 1
WN 2 3 – 5
WN – Diaz (Reynoso assist), 13th minute.
Jbg – Strote, 15th minute.
WN – Castanon, 27th minute.
WN – Alonzo (free kick), 42nd minute.
WN – J. Lopez (penalty kick), 70th minute.
WN – J. Lopez, 80th minute.
Goalkeeper saves – Johnsburg: Chapman 9. Woodstock North: Bronson 1.