STREATOR – If ever a tie soccer match felt like a win for Morris, it was Thursday at Streator.
Playing the tournament hosting Bulldogs and trailing most of the second half by a goal, the Redskins finally broke through with 2:37 left in the game to seal a 2-2 tie.
It not only marks the second year in a row the Redskins and Bulldogs have tied in the annual tournament, it now means Morris has a chance to be a repeat champion at the event.
“This gives us the chance to still win the tournament,” Morris senior Chava Villanueva said. “It’s still up to us if we get a good score against La Salle-Peru.”
Villanueva scored the tying goal at the end and he also assisted the first Morris goal. That one came off the foot of Ricardo Del Toro with 6:24 left in the first half.
The wind was playing strong out of the west at the start of the match, which meant Morris had the favorable conditions to its back. Then in the second half, Streator scored two goals in a four minute stretch to take the lead.
It marks the first time this season Morris has trailed in a game.
Sean Kennedy scored the first goal on a penalty kick with 32:08 left and Jonathan Bustos scored the second at 28:51.
The most exciting goal of the day, however, came after Morris put up a serious flurry on goal down the stretch.
It appeared Streator stopped playing defense in the box in front of keeper Abe Huicahpa when Villanueva scored the tying goal.
“What I saw was a bunch of guys yelling ‘hey, hey!’ and everybody stopped,” Morris coach David Valdivia said. “Everybody put up their hands and luckily Chava didn’t stop playing because there was no whistle. He was able to dribble between a few guys and put one away.”
“I think some people on the other team thought there was a handball call,” Villanueva said. “Their defense froze and I just kept going for the play because I looked at the ref and he said keep going. I took advantage of that. They were sleeping. At that point it was too late for them to react. I was in front of them already.”
Streator coach Jim Muntz saw it similarly.
“We applied pressure in the second half ... went to a different alignment, went up 2-1 and after that we put numbers back on defense,” he said. “What the kids said happened on that is; our boy got in late, the ball came up high, they were looking for a hand ball, thought the ref called it, the ball rolled over his foot and the Morris player was aggressive enough to win the ball. He was in the right place at the right time.”
Streator is now 5-1-1 and Morris moves to 4-0-1.
“I thought it was a really evenly matched game today,” Muntz said. “They had their moments, we had our moments, though, I wish they would have had one less moment. We battled defensively all game long.”
This is the first time in MCHS boys soccer history that the team has started the season unbeaten over the first five matches.
“We want to keep a really good record going,” Villanueva said. “I know my generation wants to leave our mark on school history. Our goal is to leave the best record around.”
The Redskins play LaSalle-Peru on Saturday morning in the final day of the round robin tournament.