It wasn’t the most conventional of wins, but 24 hours after the game first started Taft scored two unanswered goals to put away Lane Tech and start their conference season with a win.
The win over Lane is the first during coach Jeff Lucco’s tenure, who started with the Eagles back in 2015.
Taft have slowly started to make a name for themselves over the past few years, playing in a regional title game in 2017, while also competing with the city’s best, but this is perhaps the best iteration of the Eagles yet.
“In my first year we lost 1-0, they we lost twice on penalties. Every year we know we have to get them,” said Lucco. “They are the best program in the city.”
Resuming play in the 25th minute, both teams started out slow as they had to get their feet under them for the second time in two days.
After a lot of holdup play in the midfield, Taft finally found a bit of space in the final third, as a ball was scooted in the left side of the 18 yard box, before a Lane defender committed a foul in the box giving Taft the penalty.
Senior defender Jakub Lapinski cooly slotted the penalty past the keeper to tie the match at one a piece.
“There were a decent amount of people here last night, and we came out flat and looked timid and scared,” said Lucco. “The delay was kind of like a blessing in disguise. Former coach Christine Medunycia told me remember when the Cubs won, they had the rain delay. I don’t like baseball but we’re gonna go with it.”
Following that goal, Taft picked apart Lane for the next 45 minutes. The Eagles controlled possession, seemed to have every offensive opportunity, and never really let the Indians take momentum back.
Leading the charge for Taft was Brandon Tovar, who seemed to be everywhere on the pitch.
“We moved Brandon to striker a couple of games ago, he’s one of the fastest guys on our team and draws the most attention,” said Lucco. “But he’s okay with not getting on the score sheet, he gives it up all the time when he could take it. I think the guys fed off of that. He found people other’s couldn’t have.”
Despite controlling every aspect of the game, Taft were unable to find the go ahead goal until late in the contest, when a mistake in the midfield gave Matthew Davila enough time and space to slot home the eventual game winner into the bottom-right corner of the net.
Lane Tech started to throw everybody forward, and just a minute later, the Indians looked as though they equalized off a set piece, but the goal was promptly waved off for offside, with little argument from the Lane sideline.
The disallowed goal was the final scare Taft had for the remainder of the contest, as they rarely allowed Lane back into the attacking third. Though the decisive closeout was not taken lightly by Lucco.
“Every year, they seem to get a goal late so I was really hoping it wouldn’t happen this year, but this is a different group. I keep telling people this is the best team we’ve had, the most skilled team.”
With the win, Taft stands with Lane and Jones on the top of the Chicago Public Premier North standings along with Lane and Jones.
Taft will look to continue their newly formed winning streak with a match against Senn on Friday.