ST. CHARLES – St. Charles North hoped that a busy week of tournament soccer games would culminate with a Saint Charles Invitational championship trophy.
While the North Stars earned the opportunity to host Metea Valley in Saturday’s title game, the Mustangs were able to find the net early in the second overtime period and prevail 2-1.
“We got the first loss over with,” North Stars senior midfielder Thomas Weber said. “Now we know what that feels like. We’ve been winning all our games so far, so now that we got the first loss out of the way, now we don’t have to worry about it.”
St. Charles North (5-1) had been undefeated in the tournament. Metea Valley (3-1-2), meanwhile, overcame a loss in a penalty kick shootout on Monday against Maine South to bounce back and win the championship.
“While we’re not happy with the end result, you tip your cap to Metea [Valley] who put together a really nice tournament against some quality teams,” North Stars coach Eric Willson said. “I really liked what I saw from Metea [Valley].”
A sluggish start didn’t really hurt the North Stars until the final seconds of the first half, but in a matter of nine seconds they went from being scoreless at half to trailing 1-0.
A North Stars' foul gave the Mustangs a free kick chance with under 10 seconds left and the ball just inside the left corner. A feed into the box from Abraham Antar bounced around for a few seconds before Nick Sanchez gained possession and quickly rolled in a shot with only 1.5 seconds remaining before halftime.
“Giving up a goal right there before halftime really hurt us a lot, especially with just a couple seconds on the clock,” North Stars senior goalkeeper Bobby Curran said. “But I was happy with how we bounced back. We kept our heads up and picked up our energy and played really well, which definitely was not easy, but the guys did a good job.”
Patience and determination ultimately paid off for the North Stars when Weber gained possession of the ball in the box and scored with 23:05 left in the game to make it 1-1.
“Colin Nelson went up for it and won the header and it just fell right to me,” Weber said. “It was kind of not a great goal but it came at the right time and we kept our energy high into the overtimes and then we conceded a goal.”
Whatever energy was missing in the first half from the North Stars finally arrived in the second half.
“I just thought that in the second half we came out with a bunch more energy,” Weber said. “We were making more chances and I think we just knew one would come.”
Willson said a number of reasons could account for a bit of a lifeless first half, but that he was pleased with how his kids responded and executed after halftime.
“The way we defended was certainly better in the second half and we found a way to get the equalizer, which was obviously a positive for us,” he said. “It just wasn’t meant to be in that overtime.”
Neither team did much to be dangerous in the first overtime, but the Mustangs netted the game winner just 2:37 into the second one thanks to senior Davis Quarles.
The North Stars didn’t have an answer left in them.
“It was tough to play four games [this week],” Curran said. “That’s a lot of minutes on the guys and stuff and to then battle into double overtime. But we kept on battling so I’m proud of the effort. We had a good tournament except for the final result.”