NEW LENOX — Trailing by two goals on the road at Providence Catholic Academy, the Minooka soccer team had the Celtics right where they wanted them.
After a pair of goals by Ben Salvador — one coming via a penalty kick - the Indians came storming back and then held off Providence by a 4-3 score in the non-conference contest. While the win was nice to secure, the Indians are already looking forward to getting back to Southwest Prairie Conference action.
"It's good to get the win tonight, but we're back to conference (Tuesday) against Plainfield North," Minooka senior Mo Esquivel said. "We have to win (against North) for us to have a chance to win the conference this year."
On Monday, the Indians seemed a bit shellshocked in the first half. Salvador scored in the PK in the 17th minute and then came in from the right of net to score in the 33rd minute.
"We've started so many times like that," Minooka coach Chris Brolley said. "I even mentioned it to them beforehand. First (Providence) gets the PK and after they scored the second goal, I had to move some people around."
The Indians showed life when Mo Esquivel scored and unassisted goal from the right of net and the gap was closed to 2-1 by halftime. Minooka then came out and scored in the 45th and 57th minutes to take its first lead of the day.
"We've started so many games down in the first half," Esquivel said. "But we know we can't give up in that situation."
Craig Phillips got a point-blank shot on the Celtics keeper in the 45th minute that started off a sequence which saw Esquivel score again — this time on the rebound.
"The first goal I just kept fighting," Esquivel said. "I ripped it right by the keeper. The second came after a cross and it ended up going in to make it 2-2. The third goal, the cross came from me and Phillips hit a header that hit the post and I was there to finish it."
"Mo's unstoppable," Brolley said. "When teams don't man-mark him, he is unstopable."
The goals were the 16th and 17th of the season for Esquivel.
The slim lead held up until 4:41 remained in the match when Salvador assisted Mike Jacus and it looked like things were destined to end in a tie.
"No one was ready for that goal," Esquivel admitted.
With time winding down, the Indians pressed to get the win back. As the clock ticked under a minute and then under 30 seconds, Minooka was going for it. The locals then got the chance to score when they were awarded a placed kick to the far right of the goal.
With slightly under 10 seconds to play, Sergio Reyes put in a rebound after — once again Phiilips put one off the post with a header.
"We really didn't walk off the field with a tie," Reyes said. "We felt we deserved to win it. The whole idea was to calm it down and the big guys were there at the right time. Mo hit the kick and Phillips hit the ball off the bar with his head. I saw a Providence defender just standing there and I crushed it for the goal."
It is just the second goal of the year for Reyes.
"Any time you win a game like that, it's great," Brolley said. "I give Providence a lot of credit, but we battled back to do what we had to do at the end there. This is a team who will fight to the end."
Providence is now 8-8-3 on the season while Minooka improves to 10-7-1.
Ayhan Ozgen was the winning keeper and he made nine saves.