Boys soccer: Fremd's win over Naperville North concludes successful weekend for Vikings
What a weekend of soccer for Fremd.
Fresh off its 2-1 victory over nationally-ranked Marquette U-High in Milwaukee on Friday night, the Vikings rode into state power Naperville North Saturday afternoon and recorded a 1-0 nonconference win over the Huskies.
Leo Akashi's brilliant first-half solo effort, and superb defending by Caden Statz and his back line teammates were the difference in impressive effort by the Vikings (7-1-1) on Saturday to end a highly successful week of play.
"It's been a really great week for us," said Statz, whose work on both sides of the ball, alongside Beck Smolak, Braden Roos, and Joey Rodino helped slow a Huskies (8-2-2) club that came into their home park on an eight-game winning streak.
"We have two starters out, and we were coming off a physically, and mentally demanding game in Milwaukee, and in less than 24 hours we came out and played a strong game to beat another great team today," added Statz.
Perhaps due to the quick turnaround from the night before, the Vikings' legs looked a little heavy, particularly in the first ten minutes, but once they were able to neutralize the Huskies' terrific tri-captain trio of Keegan Flaherty, Tyson Amoo-Mensah and all-state candidate Alex Barger, the game turned in favor of the visitors.
"We were too sluggish ourselves, it's not our M.O. to be that way, and Fremd, which is a very good team, took advantage of it today," admitted Flaherty.
Akashi's goal into the top corner from 25 yards was made possible by his teammate, Christian Tirado, whose selfless and creative work helped Akashi find enough time and space to strike the opener in the 20th minute.
Plenty of purpose, pace, and quick ball movement would force Huskies keeper Patrick Horn into action, stopping a well-struck effort from Eli Schoffstall, then Vikings junior Kenan Mesic on the half-hour.
The Vikings could have doubled their advantage in the 67th minute if not for a magnificent point-blank save on Schoffstall, who was sent through by Mesic.
Horn's counterpart, Robby Remian, who was strong all throughout in all of the Huskies' free kicks, corners, and deep throws, was at his best in the closing moments of regulation.
That's when Barger burst past a pair of challengers to the end line, played a wonderful ball to the spot and Noah Radeke, whose close-range attempt was turned away by Remian.
Radeke's return effort on frame off the rebound went wide.
"It was a very good weekend of soccer. We showed both (Friday) and today if we come to play, we can be a dangerous opponent to play," said Vikings coach Steve Keller. "We were missing a couple of starters, but we had some good work and effort from our bench -- Daniel Grudzien, Sondro Javakhishvili, Kenan Mesic, Amar Patel, and especially Owen Winegar -- and it's that kind of depth that will help us a lot from here on out."