Geneva's last two games have been losses but the Vikings are still building confidence as the postseason looms.
Both of the Vikings' recent defeats – 1-0 to Hinsdale Central and 5-4 to Neuqua Valley – were near-misses against powerhouse teams, a hopeful sign in a season that has not gone to plan for the Vikings (7-10).
Against Hinsdale Central, the Red Devils needed a goal with 17 seconds to play in the match for a 1-0 win over Geneva. The win made the Red Devils 15-0-2 on the season, spoiling an inspired senior night effort from the Vikings.
“We weren’t afraid to go in and play an undefeated team,” Geneva midfielder Calen Colbert told chicagolandsoccer.net. “We saw it as a great opportunity to improve and get better going into the playoffs. I think it’s all about how we can come back after this.”
Pretty well, it turned out.
On Tuesday, the Vikings traveled to Naperville and almost upset Neuqua Valley, dropping a wild match that saw a combined seven goals scored in the second half. The Vikings had a two-goal lead with about 15 minutes left before unraveling late.
The Vikings will have a week to troubleshoot their defensive struggles against the Wildcats ahead of Tuesday's 3A regional semifinal – a rematch against Neuqua – to be played at Burgess Field.
"Since we have them in the first round of the playoffs, hopefully our guys are taking to heart that we have to play for a full 80 minutes and not let up at all," Geneva coach Ryan Estabrook said.
Neuqua is the No. 5 seed in the Metea Valley Sectional while Geneva is the 10. The winner of that regional semifinal advances to an Oct. 26 regional championship match against Plainfield North or Oswego.
Bulldogs turn to Foster
Batavia had been splitting time in bet between senior Nick Foster and junior John Faraone, but late in the season, Bulldogs coach Mark Gianfrancesco has turned over the job full-time to Foster.
Gianfrancesco wanted Foster to take ownership of the starting job leading up to the postseason.
"Obviously he's a senior, too," Gianfrancesco said. "It's important. I think at times when it's single elimination, it means a little bit more [to seniors]. Not that John is showing any of those signs, but as a senior, it means that much more."
Gianfrancesco commended Faraone for his performance this season.
"John had a solid season and got a ton of experience," Gianfrancesco said. "We're looking forward to that for next year, but you still have to be ready. You never know what could happen."
Friday night lights
Area students at some local schools wanting to support their soccer and football teams on the same night will need to be swift these next couple weeks.
St. Charles North faces Hoffman Estates in a 5:30 p.m. boys soccer regional game this Friday, about two hours before the North Stars football team is scheduled to kick off against Larkin in Elgin. The following week, on Oct. 25, St. Charles East and Kaneland are among the local schools likely to have soccer regional championship games on the same evening that the schools' football teams close the regular season.
IN THE GROOVE
Kevin Collins, Batavia, Jr., F
What he did: Collins scored three goals Tuesday to lift Batavia to a 4-1, Upstate Eight Conference crossover win at Bartlett. "He's been playing really well the last three, four games, really being active, especially around the goal, but in the midfield he's linking up really well with some other players, and been at the right place at the right time," Batavia coach Mark Gianfrancesco said.
Cooper Macek, St. Charles East, Sr., D
What he did: Macek scored the only goal of the night Saturday on a gorgeous, diving header as East clinched the Upstate Eight Conference River Division with a shutout win at St. Charles North.
WHAT WE LEARNED FROM LAST WEEK
All good things must come to an end, even for powerhouse Burlington Central.
The Rockets saw their 15-match winning streak snapped Saturday with a 1-0 loss to Streamwood.
WHAT WE'LL LEARN IN THE WEEK AHEAD
Whether St. Charles North will live to see another week.
The North Stars have struggled mightily this season but will be the favorite by seed Friday when they meet Hoffman Estates in a first-round, 3A regional match to be played at North. If coach Eric Willson's team advances, it would face top-seeded and host St. Charles East in a regional semifinal Oct. 23.
COACH SLY SAYS
Batavia has had a great season, something local soccer fans might not have suspected would be the case after St. Charles East toasted Batavia, 5-0, in late August.
But the Bulldogs dusted themselves off nicely and have been on close to cruise control ever since, beating some pretty solid teams along the way. Shoot, the 'Dogs would have won the conference title if not for Batavia's recent second-half comeback against Larkin.
It'll be interesting to see if the Bulldogs can maintain their momentum in the postseason, but either way, the 2013 Bulldogs have a lot to be proud of.