As far as memorable assists go, St. Rita senior Carlos Sanchez probably won’t put this one on his highlight reel.
But, after working extensively a day earlier with his teammates on set pieces for free kicks, Sanchez will certainly take the assist just the same.
Going after a Tyler Padilla free kick with a bicycle kick, Sanchez grazed the ball just enough to deflect it to teammate Langston Bedgood in front of the net.
With the goal for the Mustangs, host St. Rita was off and running on its way to a 4-1 nonconference victory on Sept. 7 over Tinley Park.
Sanchez finished with 2 goals and an assist.
“Yesterday in practice we really focused on those 50-50 balls. Basically, you’ve just got to get a touch on it,” Sanchez said. “We’re a shorter team; so, we want to contest the ball, and whenever you can get a touch, you’ve got to get it. The pass was there.”
The Sanchez-to-Bedgood goal opened the scoring just 2 minutes into the game, but the senior duo was not done.
Midway through the first half, Bedgood fielded the ball in the box with the Tinley Park goalkeeper out of the net trying to make a play.
Sending the ball toward the goal, Sanchez swooped in for the header. Bedgood joked afterward that he thought the ball was already in the net, but the high-scoring senior forward will take credit for the team goal either way.
“I think it was past the line,” Bedgood said with a laugh. “Our confidence as an offense, we’re getting faster. We’re moving the ball and using more 1-2 passes, not trying to keep the ball on our foot as long. We’re playing with a quicker pace.”
Sanchez added his second goal early in the second half on a laser of a shot from 25 yards out in front of the net.
After Tinley Park broke up the shutout at the 23-minute mark, St. Rita closed in style with a pretty goal from junior midfielder Julio Walton in the final 2 minutes.
The Mustangs improved to 5-1 with the win and have also beat Richards, IC Catholic, Br. Rice and Chicago Ag School.
Sanchez and Bedgood have been on the varsity since their freshman year.
“We really want to be able to lead the program and keep it moving,” Sanchez said. “We were pretty bad freshman and sophomore year, but we’ve been going uphill with this program. We’ve put a lot of work in, and we want to make sure it keeps progressing like we’ve seen.”
Senior goalkeeper Luke Manning finished with 4 saves against Tinley Park.
Seniors Tyler Padilla, Brendan Breslin and Patrick Cranley and junior Brendan Gleeson helped lead the stingy defensive effort.
“This group defensively, we’re communicating, so we know each other well,” Padilla said. “We know our strengths and weaknesses and how to work with that. We make sure we do our job and keep them out of the goal.”
The victory also got St. Rita back into the win column after a tough 4-0 shutout loss on Sept. 5 at Marist.
“For us to come back, it was really important,” Padilla said. “It shows what kind of team we are and how we can take a loss and work off of that. We can bounce back from anything.”