MANTENO — Paying tribute to legendary band Earth, Wind and Fire, Grant Park definitely will remember the 21st night of September.
On its final day in the Rivals Cup, the Dragons tasted victory in the form of a 3-0 shutout over Beecher on Thursday.
"Overall, we played pretty well," Grant Park coach Jacqlyn West said. "I actually thought that Beecher out-passed us, so that's an area we have to improve on. We also didn't talk that much on the field, but the boys managed to get the job done. We've made weekly improvements, and it's nice to see what we practice being done in a game."
Lehnert's magic act
If you've watched the Dragons play this season, chances are forward Hayden Lehnert scored at least one goal in that game.
He was back at it again on Thursday, this time providing plenty of magic as he netted all three goals in the game to complete the hat trick.
His first goal came six minutes into the game as he connected with the back of the net off an assist from Jacob Jarski.
Still in the first half, Lehnert pushed the score to 2-0, this time from an assist by Jon Goldenstern with 12:17 left.
He ended his act with a little assistance from Beecher's goalie as the ball bounced off the goalie's body, and Lehnert swiftly struck and connected to seal the victory.
"He can really score," West said. "One thing that we struggle with is that when we take a shot we don't follow it. He did this time, and that's how that third goal was scored. He finds the back of the net, I'd like him to find it more often as the season goes on."
The hat trick was Lehnert's fourth of the year and now gives him 18 goals this season.
Young and Learning
Beecher has faced an uphill climb so far and right now, it's at the tough part of the season -- not because of the schedule but simply because of youth and untimely injuries.
"We played with a different lineup (Thursday) because two of our top players are out with injuries," Beecher coach Dawn Compton said. "We're very young and inexperienced, so when we lose that leadership on the field, it clearly shows."
Although leadership may not be on the field, the Bobcats' effort, spirit and hustle remains there.
"We've been coming to the Rivals Cup for years now," Compton said. "This year is a little bit different because of the lack of experience and depth. For us, this was more about getting young guys some minutes and getting them accustomed to the speed of high school soccer."
While this hasn't the season the Bobcats had envisioned from a results standpoint, they continue improving and find positive takeaways despite the score.
"We understand that we're building for the future," Compton said. "And I have to give a lot of credit to my two seniors, Ben Strick and Joel Barraza. They've been in a program that had a lot of success for the past two years, and I'm sure its tough for them to see that this is their final year. But it's been a learning experience for them. They've grown, matured and learned to lead so there's been some benefits as well."
Beecher plays host to Reed-Custer on Monday. Grant Park faces Beecher again on Thursday.