Tonight’s game was a tale of two very different halves. In the first half, Schaumburg gave us quite a battle and without an unbelievable performance from our goalkeeper, Alex Ruffolo, we could have easily been down two or three goals. Our opponents managed to take 8 shots, placing 6 shots on goal. This is well above what we typically allow, in an entire game let alone one half.
We did also manage a few chances of our own, mainly toward the end of the first half. The Saxons keeper was also up to the task as we attempted 7 shots, getting 3 on frame, yet he allowed none to beat him. Our best chance of the half came on point blank chance from Michael Blanke, where their sprawling keeper miraculously swatted the ball away from what appeared to be a certain goal. Schaumburg played hard, and their high and aggressive offsides trap was too much for us to solve, until the second half…
In the second half, we stymied much of what they were doing and substantially increased our efforts. With better runs and balls in behind their high line, we exposed the mass of space behind their line. Fifteen minutes into the second stanza Enrico Ruffolo made a fantastically timed run down the left flank, in behind everyone. As he penetrated closer to goal, the Saxon defense collapsed toward him, leaving a darting Klaus Pallan on the weak side. With terrific vision and great skill, Enrico calmly slipped the ball to Klaus, where he easily tapped the ball home. Finally, we were able to expose the risky strategy of playing so high and trapping.
Just five minutes later, Kai Sebens won a tackle on our side of the field and played a high clearance behind their line (just like we asked our guys to at the half.) The ball dropped into the space the Saxons were leaving exposed; it was perfect! In true sniper fashion and at full speed, Michael Blanke flew past the Saxon back line and deftly settled the ball at his feet. With a quick dribble of the ball to his left, he eliminated the keeper and found himself with an empty net finish of his own. Lovely! A 2-0 lead for our Broncos!
Caleb Orr decided to get into the scoring act himself, picking up a delivery from Gio Guarnero, and effectively ending any Saxon hope for victory with his smashing goal with just less than 10 minutes remaining. From there, we defended well and sealed the win.
The man of the match tonight was definitely Alex Ruffolo, who had what was likely his best night ever as a Bronco, saving the day in the opening half. Unquestionably, without his efforts, we would have been trailing most likely by multiple goals. It would be naive though to think that Alex won the game on his own. John Gadbois also had an excellent night, especially in terms of distribution from the back, but even more so with the verbal organization and encouragement of his teammates. And truly, the entire team picked up the effort in the second half and all deserve credit for the win. (And yes, we all know that most of the Village of Schaumburg may have heard the spirited halftime speech too. No worries there.)
Congratulations to the team on a gritty win. Now on to tomorrow night, and a home match vs. Hoffman Estates.
BHS – Pallan, Hans (Enrico Ruffolo) — 55th minute
BHS – Blanke, Michael (Enrico Ruffolo) — 60th minute
BHS – Orr, Caleb (Gio Guarnero) — 71st minute