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Boys Soccer: Argo’s Ahmed scores twice against Richards

By Steve Millar
Correspondent

Argo’s offense has found some new firepower with a key addition.

Its defense has continued to thrive despite a crucial, but temporary, loss.

The situation has made for a successful mix, which continued Sept. 13 when Argo rolled to a 5-0 win over Richards in a South Suburban Red game in Oak Lawn.

The match was the Argonauts’ only one last week. They entered this week 4-2-1, 3-0 with home games scheduled for Monday against Shepard, Thursday versus Oak Forest and Saturday against Leyden. They have outscored their opponents 16-9 in those seven matches.

“Defensively, we’ve done very well,” Argo coach Carlos Marquez said. “The guys have stuck with the game plan. They know the system. We’re probably known for our defense and we’ve had great defenders.

“Last year, we were just lacking on offense. That hasn’t been a problem this year.”

Senior forward Mohamed Ahmed is a major reason why. Ahmed transferred to Argo after earning All-State honors at Richards in the spring.

He scored twice in his return to his old school.

“I was nervous at first,” Ahmed said. “But it was a good feeling playing here and knowing all the players I played against. I was excited to play them

“It was a good feeling to let them know that I won at the end.”

Ahmed gave Argo the lead less than seven minutes in when he took a pass from Mauricio Martinez, cut between two defenders and ripped a liner inside the right post.

Richards (2-4-2, 0-2-1) stayed within striking distance, trailing just 1-0 at halftime.

The Bulldogs had some opportunities to tie it. Diego Fonseca had a shot saved by Argo goalkeeper David Las late in the first half. Just after halftime, Ahmed Dhalai fired just wide on a good look and Musa Mohammad had a shot saved.

Ahmed, though, struck again with 31:05 left in the game. After Simon Cicha’s cross was deflected in the bounce, it corralled toward Ahmed and he volleyed the ball out of the air, burying a shot under the crossbar to make it 2-0.

“That was pretty,” Ahmed said. “I just volleyed it. Last season gave me a lot of confidence playing with the ball, controlling the ball, and taking shots. I’m not nervous when I get the ball.”

The Argonauts rolled from there as Cicha, Ben Valdes and Jakub Skubisz also scored.

Argo’s defense recorded its fourth shutout. Las finished with five saves and got help from the back line of Michal Gacek, Jose Perez, Daniel Amaro and Pepe Orozco.

Argo has played well in the back despite the absence of star defender Edgar Martinez, who has played sparingly this season due to an injury but is expected back soon.

“Michal Gacek has really stepped up,” Marquez said. “He played defensive mid last year and we needed another center back to help Edgar. He’s filled that role beautifully. He’s probably been our best defender since Edgar went out.”

Richards, meanwhile, is trying to build up a new sense of belief under first-year coach Rafal Slomba.

The loss was its first of three straight heading into this week, as the Bulldogs subsequently dropped matches to Marian Catholic (3-1) and TF North (1-0). They (2-6-2, 0-3-1) entered Monday’s game against Eisenhower winless in their past six games. They are also scheduled to play beecher, Bishop McNamara and Petone this week.

“Credit to the guys,” Slomba said. “They’ve been working hard for the last month and a half. New system, new coach, trying to learn the system and develop that chemistry. That’s probably the biggest thing we’re building as we go.

“I knew coming it, there wasn’t going to be right-off-the-bat success. I think once we start winning a little bit, that’s going to become infectious and we’ll move that into the playoffs and into next season.”

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