By Steve Millar
Juan Mejia and Mohammad Mizyed scored just 71 seconds apart early in the second half to lift host Oak Lawn to a 3-1 win over Tinley Park in a South Suburban Conference crossover on March 25.
The Spartans (2-2-1) rallied after falling behind the Titans (0-4-1) less than four minutes into the game.
“We came out flat and we were kind of playing into Tinley Park’s strengths at the start,” Oak Lawn coach Nate Joiner said. “They’re very athletic and physical. We just tried to keep the ball on the ground a little bit more and that paid off in the second half.”
The game was tied 1-1 at halftime before Oak Lawn came out for the final 40 minutes and started generating pressure immediately.
On a corner kick, Damien Aceves’ cross curled on goal and was punched out by Tinley Park goalkeeper Brayden Carroll. A scramble ensued and the ball ended up rolling toward the far post, where Mejia was waiting to jam it home to give Oak Lawn the lead with 35 minutes, 45 seconds left.
“It came to the post and I just ran in and knocked it in,” Mejia said. “Then we scored again. That was fast. I didn’t expect that.”
Indeed, it was fast.
Off the ensuing kickoff, the ball ended up at the feet of Mizyed, who did not hesitate to fire a shot from 35 yards, blasting a perfectly-placed ball into the top of the net to make it 3-1 with 34:34 to go.
“I watch top-class strikers,” Mizyed said. “I notice their movement, their runs and where they shoot the ball. They have that trigger foot. Once the ball goes on their foot, they take that shot no matter what the angle is. I try to implement that into my game, and it’s been working.”
Mizyed, a senior forward, has five goals through five games.
Even after the quick two-goal outburst, Mizyed knew the Spartans had a long way to go to secure the victory.
“The adrenaline was rushing,” he said. “I had to calm myself down. It was the beginning of the half. I had to stay composed and make sure the team stayed alert to finish off this game.
“We’re proving this is a special team. We just have to keep coming out hard and showing what we can do.”
Oak Lawn limited the Titans’ chances the rest of the way and junior goalkeeper Damian Komperda stopped the lone second-half shot Tinley Park managed to put on goal.
Komperda finished with five saves.
Tinley Park’s Miguel Martin scored the game’s opening goal in the fourth minute, but Oak Lawn answered back six minutes later when sophomore Jose Aceves scored off an assist from Mizyed.
“We’ve been doing a lot better with scoring than last year, for sure,” Joiner said of a 4-16-1 finish in 2019. “We worked on finishing all summer and all the contact days. Hopefully it’s a good trend and we can keep it going.”