From Staff Reports
A pair of Saint Xavier players scored their first goals of the season, as the Cougars men's soccer team took the victory on Homecoming Saturday, 2-1, over the visiting St. Francis at Bruce R. Deaton Memorial Field.
Freshman Fabian Lopez (Bremen) scored his first collegiate goal in the 35th minute, giving the Cougars (4-5, 1-1 CCAC) the 1-0 lead in the first half. After the break, senior Ricardo Aldape (Bloom Township) gave Saint Xavier a two-goal lead with a score in the 56th minute.
Lopez found the back of the net after pulling in the rebound from a shot by Michael Gutierrez (IC Catholic). After the goalkeeper made the save, Lopez collected the loose ball and fired from 10 yards out.
Aldape became the 17th player in program history to reach 50 points for his career, scoring his 21st goal as a Cougar, most among all active players. The senior collected the pass from fellow senior Danny Lopez (Kennedy) and fired a shot that struck the crossbar but landed just inside the goal.
The Cougar defense held off a St. Francis (3-5, 1-1 CCAC) squad that out-shot the home side 7-3 in the second half, with just one goal coming in the 90th minute. Freshman goalkeeper Shane Badertscher (Plainfield Central) made two saves to earn his fourth win of the season.
After recognizing the team's eight seniors before the game, it was two freshmen who scored in a come-from-behind victory over St. Francis on Homecoming Saturday at Deaton Field.
Overcoming a Saints goal in the 4th minute, the Cougars (3-4-1, 2-0 CCAC) rallied with a pair of second half tallies to earn the team's second victory in conference play and retain their perfect record in the CCAC.
Saint Xavier had two shots on target in the first half, as the Cougars looked to even the score before the break, but both were saved by the goalkeeper for St. Francis (1-5-1, 0-1 CCAC). SXU would break through in the 50th minute, when Yasmine Matthews (Oak Forest) was brought down inside the penalty box.
Shelby Bishop (Plainfield South) would step up to the spot and score the equalizer – her third goal of the season.
Ten minutes later, a run from senior Brooke Mejdrich (Lincoln-Way Central) would lead to a perfectly-timed pass to freshman Kimberly Marquez (Reavis) who scored the game-winning goal in the 60th minute.
The Saints would have one more shot on goal the rest of the match, but the header in the 67th minute would be saved by senior keeper Carly Bledsoe (Father Ryan). Bledsoe finished with two saves in the win, her first of the season.
Shepard alum earns honors
For the second week in a row, Saint Xavier redshirt freshman kicker Mike Iturbe (Shepard) was named the Mid-States Football Association's Midwest League Special Teams Player of the Week.
Iturbe, of Palos Heights, helped No. 21 Saint Xavier (2-2) to a 33-14 road victory over Lindenwood-Belleville on Sept.15, scoring a total of seven points on the day. Iturbe went a perfect 4-for-4 on extra points, and his 19-yard field goal in the second quarter was part of a 24-0 lead the Cougars would build in the first half.
With four MSFA Player of the Week awards this season, Saint Xavier leads all conference teams in earning the honor. Iturbe also becomes the first player in the league – offensive, defensive or special teams - to have been named player of the week twice in 2018.
The Cyclones faced their first real test of the season Sept. 15 in a matchup with South Suburban College. Although the 6-1 victory might look like an easy day, the Cyclones had to play solid ball.
Moraine scored three goals in the first five minutes, but the Bulldogs managed to get a goal back quickly. The Cyclones, however, proved to be too much and added two more before halftime, and the final one late in the second half.
Freshman Mairead Ruane (Lemont) scored three times. Karen Montoya (Eisenhower), Yesenia Perez (Eisenhower) and Jasmine Quezada (Thornton Fractional North) each had a goal.
The goal by South Suburban was the first the Cyclones have given up in six games, and the defense once again held its ground against a talented offense.
"I’m very proud of the effort and execution from our team in a game like this. We knew it wasn't going to be easy, but we came out ready and were able to score early to put us in a good spot,” said head coach Al Palar. “South Suburban has some talented players, and we were able to keep them quiet for the most part throughout the game. This was a really good regional win for us going forward."
It was a long weekend Sept. 14 to 16 for the fighting Cyclones as they faced five teams in the Waubonsee Community College Tournament. Even after an initial loss, they bounced back to win their remaining four matches.
A slow start, tough blocking, hitting errors and missed serves undermined the Cyclones despite a solid defensive effort, and they lost in four sets, 21-25, 16-25, 25-22, 24-26.
Julia Elsouso (Richards) led Moraine with 16 kills and Noelle Knezz (Lincoln-Way West) had 10. Lauren Gausselin (Sandburg) finished with 32 digs.
The Cyclones battled back the next day with wins over Illinois Valley Community College (25-23, 25-19, 25-9) and South Suburban College (25-10, 25-9, 25-20). Abbi Fletcher (Oak Lawn) collected 12 kills and 15 digs, Knezz amassed four aces, 13 kills and 16 assists while Emily Stepanek (Sandburg) dug up 33, Amanda Bulow (Oak Lawn) had 13 kills and Gausselin had 13 digs.
The final two wins on Sept. 16 saw a number of missed serves, close calls and low energy, but the Cyclones were able to win both matches in three: 25-23, 26-24, 25-19 over Sauk Valley Community College and 26-16, 25-21, 25-19 over Black Hawk College.
Fletcher finished with 27 kills, 14 digs and three aces, Gausselin had 15 digs, Amanda Bulow had 10 kills, Stepanek had 11 digs, Knezz collected 16 assists and Taylor Bulow (Oak Lawn) dished out 11 assists.
Freshman Fernando Alvarez (Reavis) was the hero Sept. 15, firing in the winning goal with a bicycle kick on overtime to defeat rival South Suburban College.
This heated matchup was the first real challenge the Cyclones have faced so far in their undefeated season. Dan Rohder (Sandburg) scored in the first half on a penalty kick after Daniel Kasaggoma (Uganda) was fouled giving the Cyclones a brief lead. The Bulldogs came back to score on a penalty kick of their own.
With the scored tied at one in overtime, Alvarez arrived with the heroics with assist credit to James Finn (Stagg) and Vasili Vouris (Sandburg).
Goalkeeper Gustavo Flores (Eisenhower) was tight in the net, making a number of key saves.
The heat and large field didn’t keep the Cyclone women from having some of their strongest finishes in the Gil Dodds Invitational in Warrenville on Sept. 15.
Three sophomores set personal records compared to this same race last season, but the team finished last out of 17 teams in their first 6K of the season. The field showcased over 250 runners, much larger than their other meets, requiring additional strategy. Leading the way was Calista Stefaniak (Kennedy), who crossed first for the Cyclones in 133rd place in 25:40. She was followed by Richards product Victoria Granz (196th, 27:46), Tinley Park grad Madison Krisch (205th, 28:08), Reavis alum Carmen Villarreal (228th, 29:25), Reavis product Lupe Diaz (237th, 30:27) and Reavis alum Natalie Moreno (248th, 31:58).
“I was pleased with how we ran. In terms of executing race plans, the women did a better job this time than last weekend. The sophomores all ran PR's from last year, and that's always great to see. The pack behind Calista did a better job of closing the gap between each other and that's something we're working on every day,” said head Coach Dimitri Dimizas.
Injuries thwarted a complete team turnout for the Cyclone men, but several runners had strong finishes.
David Alvarez (Sandburg) took 69th place and broke 27 minutes (26:59), which is a big accomplishment and rarely done more than once in a season for the Cyclones. He has several more opportunities this season to tackle the feat. Following his lead was Oak Lawn product Diego Arana (159th, 29:08), Lincoln-Way East grad John Donovan (178th, 29:39) and Andrew product Justin George (220th, 32:13).
“Alvarez breaking 27 minutes was impressive. JD's time this year is about a minute and a half faster than his time on the same course from last year and that will help his confidence going forward. Diego and Justin ran good first half races. Now they just need to focus on the second half,” Dimizas said.