PLAINFIELD – The secret to the successful partnership St. Francis senior Nico Lajewski shares with fellow forward Frank Marsico is simple.
“We just put our trust in each other up top and good results will come,” Lajewskisaid. “He’s capable of a lot.”
So Marsico is, and so it was Saturday on the opening day of the Plainfield Classic at Plainfield Central.
Marsico continued his recent scoring binge by tallying two goals, both on assists from Lajewski, as the Spartans edged Oswego East 2-1.
The win was the second straight for St. Francis (2-4-1) and came on the heels of Thursday’s 5-0 win over Ridgewood. Marsico had a hat trick in that game.
“We started off against all these 3A teams, but I think our results are starting to show now,” Marsico said. “We’re playing teams of similar size and we’re getting the results.”
If the Spartans are to make a playoff run in Class 2A, Marsico will be counted on to regularly find the back of the net. He did it in two different ways against Oswego East, scoring on a header while winning a challenge from Wolves goalkeeper Owen Kiilsgaard and then a 20-yard left-footed rocket with 9:21 left that proved to be the game-winner.
Marsico’s first strike gave the Spartans a 1-0 lead with 36:11 remaining in the second half. Lajewski sent a short but high-arcing pass from the right side of the box over a defender in front to Marsico, whose header dribbled over the goal line before a defender could clear it.
Oswego East (2-5) tied it six minutes later on a goal from Andre Casas, but the Spartans raised their level of play after that.
It paid dividends when Lajewski got a pass from Marsico in space. He had an open shot from about 15 yards out on the right wing but passed it up when he saw Marsico free near the top of the box.
Marsico received the feed from Lajewski, turned to his left and fired a low liner just inside the left post for his sixth goal of the season.
“He played me through,” Lajewski said. “I saw him [open].
“I didn’t want to be selfish. I saw he had a better opportunity, so I just put it on his feet and we got the goal.”
It was the kind of shot one rarely sees in the average high school game.
“That was a great shot,” St. Francis coach Kevin Ward said. “It was a great turn and great left foot.
“Gosh, I will take that all the time. I was really pleased to see that happen.”
Oswego East coach Steve Szymanski also was impressed.
“He had a lot of space, a good opportunity to turn and hit it,” Szymanski said. “He did a good job of putting it in the back of the net, so credit to him.”
The Spartans can also credit goalkeeper Cameron Crawford, who made two big saves on headers in the first half, and defender Jack Hartle, who cleared three consecutive shots off his own goal line minutes after Casas tied the game.
“I thought both teams played really hard,” Szymanski said. “They finished more opportunities than we did today.
“I thought we had the better of the play for about 30 minutes there. They were literally exhausted but we just couldn’t find the back of the net.”
The Spartans did, which was a testament to the resiliency they showed after losing the lead.
“It’s tough, especially when it’s a hot day,” Marsico said. “Everyone is tired.
“You score a goal, it’s really easy to kind of lay off the gas a little bit, and I think we did just a little bit. But their goal was a wakeup call for us and I think we responded really well and we stepped it up.”