MINOOKA – It started out way too easy. By halftime, the match looked difficult. In the end the Indians wound up salvaging defeat and a 3-3 tie.
When Minooka midfielder Matt Dlugopulski scored 56 seconds into a Thursday match against Riverside-Brookfield in the Lemont Tournament opener, it looked like it was going to be smooth sailing for the Indians against the Bulldogs.
R-B answered with three consecutive goals by the end of the first half, leaving a not so happy coach for the Indians to address the team at halftime.
“Any time you score a goal a minute in you think you are in control of the game from there on out, but actually after that goal we came out soft and they scored three,” Minooka senior captain Giacomo Raimondi said.
Joe Aieta scored the tying goal for R-B in the ninth minute when the Indians had a defensive letdown, but the two remaining goals were scored by Santiago Beltran (17th and 21st minute) on individual efforts in the first half.
“He controlled the game for that team,” Raimondi said. “He made some great plays, but if we had played stronger defense we could have prevented those goals.”
That preceded coach Chris Brolley taking his team all the way off the soccer field at MCHS at halftime and into a closed storage locker underneath the bleachers.
“He told us what we needed to do and not to come out of that shed until we solved our problem – and we did,” Raimondi said. “We knew we had to come out and possess in the second half and play soccer like we know we can play it.”
Brolley said his team got the point of his halftime speech.
“Let’s just say it got them fired up,” he said. “It was a matter of the team getting their act together and understanding what it means to get the chance to play on this varsity team. It can all slip away if they are not ready.”
“We knew we had to work our way forward,” Raimondi acknowledged.
Brolley said the difference in his team from the first half to the second was like night and day.
“They were two different teams,” he said. “We switched up and put a mark on (Beltran) and put a sweeper seven yards off of him so we kind of shut down their top guy. In the end, it just comes down to fight. We’re right here playing on our own field and you have to protect it. I’m glad the guys came out in the second half and played the way they did.”
Raimondi scored in the 49th minute off of a rebound of a shot by Luke St. Paul to get the Indians within one.
“The ball was played through to me in the corner; I cut to the goal where I saw Luke coming in so I played him the ball,” Raimondi said. “I knew he was going to take the shot and he did. Unfortunately the keeper stopped it, but I came in and tapped it in.”
The game-tying goal in the 69th minute was assisted by Raimondi off an indirect free kick in the box to Joseph McCabe.
“Right there, you have to touch it and it has to touch at least one more person so we knew we were going to play pass-touch and he took the shot right away,” Raimondi said.
“It’s bittersweet. After giving up three goals in the first half we knew we had to come back and at least tie this game,” Raimondi said. “Once we did tie it up, we then felt like we could win it, which we almost did.”
Minooka is now 1-3-1 on the season.
“There was a change here today. We lost to Lockport 2-1 in the last four minutes of the game and we lost to Plainfield North in the last four minutes of the game and Aurora East got us on a seven-minute run,” Brolley said. “But today we came back in the last couple of minutes and had the opportunity to win it. We turned the tables and if this changed the tide, then it’s going to be a good season.”