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Boys soccer insider: Bulldogs clamping down

Published: Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013 5:32 a.m. CDT

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Batavia’s last two games were matching 1-0 Upstate Eight Conference River wins against Geneva and Larkin.

Given the twin shutouts, Bulldogs coach Mark Gianfrancesco is naturally thrilled with his back line, but he said the 160 minutes of scoreless frustration for opponents carries plenty of credit to go around.

“I think it’s a team thing, though, I don’t think it’s just those four guys,” Gianfrancesco said. “I think all of them are kind of sitting back, defending, waiting for a missed pass or turnover or something, and we’re really doing a nice job of transitioning [to offense] out of that.”

Batavia’s defensive success has come despite the recent absence of sophomore Nathan Carey, a usual starter, who is recovering from a concussion.

Senior Joe Leiferman earned praise from Gianfrancesco for his performance filling in for Carey, joining other Batavia starting defenders Chase Correll, Nick Samperi and Nick Konopacki. Goalkeepers John Faraone and Nick Foster have continued to split time in net for the Bulldogs.

It’s a group that naturally has gained swagger from its recent success – just not too much, Gianfrancesco hopes.

“We’re stringing [shutouts] together, which is nice, but we’ll see how it goes,” Gianfrancesco said. “Hopefully they’re not too comfortable.”

Especially on Friday, when Batavia will put its shutout streak on the line in a stiff non-conference test against Wheaton Academy. The Warriors are coming off a 3-0 blanking of Geneva.

“They’ve got a nice team, a physical team, a pretty quick team,” Gianfrancesco said of Wheaton Academy. “They definitely take advantage off the opportunities they have, so it’ll be a nice test for us. We’re looking forward to that.”

The Bulldogs can wrap up second place in the UEC River on Tuesday if they are able to beat St. Charles North as part of a doubleheader at Geneva.

Streaking Rockets

Tuesday’s 3-0 win over Genoa-Kingston marked the seventh straight win for Burlington Central, which improved to 9-1 on the season and 6-0 in Big Northern Conference East action.

The Rockets’ Alan Camarena has scored four goals in the team’s last two matches.

Local showdown on tap

St. Charles East and Marmion are due to meet at 4:30 p.m. today in the final round of pool play at St. Charles East’s tournament. The teams tied when they met in the tournament in 2012.

After today, matchups will be determined for Saturday’s final round of the tournament, which culminates with the championship match at 12 p.m.

– Jay Schwab, jschwab@shawmedia.com

IN THE GROOVE

Grant Rougas, Wheaton Academy, Jr., M

What he did: Rougas scored two goals Tuesday in the Warriors’ 3-0 non-conference win against Geneva, which is Rougas’ hometown.

Ian Larson, Batavia, Jr., M

What he did: Larson earns the nod for the second straight week, and how could he not after scoring the lone goal of the match with only 11 seconds left to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 win against Geneva on Thursday.

WHAT WE LEARNED FROM LAST WEEK

Geneva’s French exchange student is making himself at home in Kane County.

Igor Honore continued his strong play Monday, scoring two of the Vikings’ four goals in a home victory against Kaneland.

WHAT WE’LL LEARN IN THE WEEK AHEAD

Which Tri-Cities teams show well at this year’s annual Tri-City Shootout doubleheader.

Batavia takes on St. Charles North in the first match of the doubleheader before host Geneva faces powerhouse St. Charles East in the 7 p.m. nightcap.

COACH SLY SAYS

St. Charles East is putting its money where its mouth is this season.

The Saints said they’d be just fine even without stud scorer T.C. Hull this season, and East has been just that, turning in an even more dominant regular season so far than the Saints staged in 2012.

It’s scary to think of just how devastating this team would be with a healthy Hull, but it’s becoming pretty clear that East is a bona fide state championship contender with the group it has now.

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