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MAYWOOD | Off to one of its best starts in recent years, the Proviso East boys soccer team came into its District 209 showdown vs. visiting Proviso West with a 6-1 record.
The Pirates appeared to be well in control of this matchup after taking a 2-0 lead early in the second half. But it was all Panthers from that point on. Proviso West controlled the rest of the half, scoring four unanswered goals and surprising the Pirates, 4-2. Panthers head coach Carlos Villanueva has been waiting for his club to put together a game where everything clicked, and the Panthers did just that at the Pirates’ expense. “When we talked at halftime, (I said) it’s up to you guys,” said Villauneva, whose squad is 4-10-2 overall. “We made silly, dumb mistakes in the first half. They played the best second half I’ve ever seen. We’ve played well in almost every game; we’ve been competitive in every game, but the problem is, we didn’t know how to win. And today, we finally learned how to win and how to overcome adversity.”
The Pirates struck first when junior forward Jesse Moreno blasted a shot from 30 yards out with 20:28 remaining in the first half for a 1-0 lead. Moreno scored again nearly seven minutes into second half, tapping the ball in after one of the Panther goalkeepers misplayed the ball. Seniors Justin Bautista and Adrian Flores both saw action in the nets for Proviso West, with Bautista making a point-blank save to keep the Panthers in the game. Panthers’ midfielder Salvador Salazar then netted the first of his two goals with 24:18 to play in the second half. His second tally, coming at 22:41 of the half, knotted the score at 2-2. With 16:08 left, Proviso West’s Sergio Delgado, a senior forward/midfielder, scored what proved to be the game-winning goal. He added an insurance goal late in the game.
“We’ve got a couple of guys that got dinged up and (they) came out of the game, and then we broke down on defense,” said Proviso East coach David Moss. “They were able to score two quick goals and you go down to the end and anything can happen. They scored the third (goal) and we put our heads down a little bit and then they scored the fourth.”
The injured players to whom Moss is referring are two midfielders: senior Eddie Ruiz and junior Brian Chaidez. Chadiez twisted an ankle and Ruiz was kicked in the back of his calf. He ended up having to leave the game. “Eddie played maybe 15 minutes after that because the calf muscle stiffened up on him,” Moss said. Moss was hoping both players would be able to suit up for a tough stretch of West Suburban Conference Gold Division games that the Pirates face over the next week-and-a-half. They hosted Downers South on Tuesday and visit Addison Trail on Monday, Oct. 2. Then, the Pirates take on always-formidable Morton Thursday, Oct. 5.
“We’re 6-2, it’s a great start and a great part of the year for us,” said Moss, who also is missing one of his top players due to him being academically ineligible. “We have to come back and play well against Downers and see what we can do. We have time to get those who are injured back. If we’re not the best conference in the state, we’re the second-best conference in the state, so day in and day out, you’ve got to be ready to play.”
The Panthers, meanwhile, want to use their triumph over the Pirates as a springboard into a portion of their schedule in which they’ll play five games within eight days. The Panthers travel to Willowbrook Thursday for a West Suburban Conference gold game. They’re at Foreman on Saturday, host Lyons Township Monday, Oct. 2 and are at Hinsdale Central Oct. 3.
“We’re competitive in there,” said Villanueva, referring to the West Suburban Silver. “It’s just finally we’re putting everything together at one time. In the beginning of the season, there was one thing or another. We made a mistake and we couldn’t overcome the mistakes. It was just a matter of finding the right combo, and today we finally found the right combo.”