Monday's season opener was a test of fitness and patience for both sides and thanks to a pair of first-half goals, Dundee-Crown sailed to a 2-0 triumph over Harlem.
Lightning in the area halted both team's pre-match warm-ups and once the 4:30 pm contest started 40 minutes later, the host Chargers (1-0) got an early jump as junior Andrew Janikowski lofted the ball over outrushing Harlem goalie Adem Dzananovic for a lead just 4:52 into the contest.
“Once I got the ball to bounce in front of me, I chipped it with the outside of my foot hoping it would get over him but under the crossbar,” Janikowski explained. “It felt good leaving my foot and to get a goal in my first varsity match was all I could hope for beyond a victory.”
Before Harlem (0-1) could mount a counter or Dundee-Crown could continue the momentum, lightning brought play to a standstill for another 30 minutes. When action resumed so did the rain which made field conditions slick. The humidity also returned, but the Chargers renewed their attack and doubled their lead 23:20 prior to the halftime horn.
William Campos found teammate Freddy Martinez in the clear on the far right wing. The junior bent his 20-yard shot just inside the upper left corner.
“Seeing it curve in was an amazing feeling. That was the kind of goal you see in FIFA play and you hope you can do once,” Martinez said in regard to his first-ever varsity goal. “The key was getting a good pass from my teammate. It was also nice to get two goals ahead.”
Harlem never really found an offensive rhythm and managed one shot in each half, both sailing wide of the goal.
Dundee-Crown goalie Jose Gonzalez earned his first shutout after having chalked up 12 last season when the Chargers went 19-1-1, finishing with a penalty kick loss in a regional opener to a Larkin squad that went on to state.
“In a game when you don't have much action, you have to really concentrate on being ready for a breakaway, but in this case it was also a credit to my teammates work on defense,” Gonzalez said. “Seeing them controlling play made it easier, but we all know this was just the first step to where we want to go.”
The one-sided play was reflected statistically as Dundee-Crown had a 16-2 advantage in overall attempts and an 8-0 edge for shots on goal, plus a 3-0 tally in corner kicks.
“The way we played together for a first match was pretty satisfying,” Charger coach Rey Vargas said. “That's not to say we don't need to improve, but there were stretches we really connected passes and talked to each other. William was fabulous in midfield while Andrew and Freddy were the most active players either up top or in midfield.”