Geneva coach Ryan Estabrook spent a lot of time this offseason plotting a switch to a flat-4 formation.
Only a couple weeks into the season, the Vikings backtracked, reverting to their familiar 3-5-2 look.
Tuesday’s 2-0 win against St. Charles North – the first ‘W’ of the season for the 1-3-1 Vikings – seemed to affirm the decision to switch back.
“My assistant coach, Rob Luhring, and I really did a lot of research and watched a lot of professional games over the summer and thought a great deal about what we’d like to see happen, but at the end of the day, it comes back to what works best for our team,” Estabrook said. “Playing with three in back seems to work best for us now so that’s what we need to do.”
Estabrook said he was surprised it took the Vikings several matches to get untracked.
“I thought we’d have a decent squad this year,” Estabrook said. “I was disappointed with the results, not just losses, but the way we played. Even the Kaneland game, we tied, was a disappointing result, and we didn’t play our best game. I think we definitely improved a lot going forward into the North game.”
Estabrook said the return of defender Brian Pacilio, who missed the first few games with a knee injury, also helped jump-start the Vikings, who will seek their second straight win Saturday at DeKalb.
Bulldogs loosen up
Like Geneva, Batavia snared its first win Tuesday, defeating Upstate Eight Conference River foe Elgin, 4-2.
John Barnes had three goals for Batavia, while David Curnock supplied the other score.
Batavia coach Mark Gianfrancesco said Barnes in particular and the Bulldogs in general seemed to loosen up during the Elgin match after a frustrating 0-4 start to the season.
“I think once the goals started coming, you saw some confidence in them, and then other people got confidence,” Gianfrancesco said. “Some of the players I haven’t seen play the way I know they can play, they loosened up quite a bit, started playing the relaxed, smart ball we’re used to seeing. I think it’s just getting the monkey off their backs.”
Gianfrancesco also flip-flopped the order he was rotating his goalies, moving Mike Rueffer to the first half and inserting Nick Foster for the second half.
“After you go [0-4], everything’s open for discussion,” Gianfrancesco said.
Gianfrancesco said it “kind of stinks” that the Bulldogs must wait more than a week until they try to build off the Elgin win Wednesday against Neuqua Valley.
Missing piece for East
St. Charles East junior Kevin Heinrich, the Saints’ starting left-back, is likely to miss the rest of the season after suffering a broken clavicle during the team’s 1-0 loss Aug. 28 to Streamwood.
Heinrich was briefly hospitalized after a frightening fall during the match.
“We’re obviously very glad he’s going to hopefully be fine in the long run,” East coach Paul Jennison said. “It was just an unfortunate accident, and one hopefully he comes back from even stronger.”
Without Heinrich, Jennison might do some position shuffling and is “looking to fit the best pieces of the jigsaw, so to speak.”
“We certainly have options and we’re very confident with the boys we can put in there,” Jennison said. “Hopefully they end up having a good season moving forward wherever they are in the field.”
East started the season 5-0 before back-to-back shutout losses to Streamwood and Lyons (2-0).
IN THE GROOVE
John Barnes, Batavia, Jr., M What he did: Barnes scored a trio of goals in Tuesday's 4-2 Upstate Eight Conference River win against Elgin.
Sam Hardy, Wheaton Academy, Jr., M What he did: Hardy netted a pair of goals on Tuesday as the Warriors blanked Chicago Christian, 6-0, in Suburban Christian Conference play.
WHAT WE LEARNED FROM LAST WEEK
St. Charles North players must learn to rise to the occasion.
After North fell to Geneva, 2-0, on Tuesday, North Stars coach Eric Willson said "We need our guys to understand what a rivalry game is and what a Tri-Cities game means.”
WHAT WE'LL LEARN IN THE WEEK AHEAD
Whether Kaneland can continue to build on its strong early-season momentum – which included a 1-1 tie against former nemesis Geneva – as the Knights gear up the Northern Illinois Big 12 battles ahead.
COACH SLY SEZ...
Belated congrats to the Kaneland Knights for tying Geneva.
The Vikings might not be playing so hot early this season (although they looked pretty good against North), but still, Geneva is a program that has owned Kaneland over the years, back when they were conference opponents.
For Kaneland to play Geneva to a tie says plenty about how far Kaneland soccer has come.