Elias El Metennani did not let the delay before his penalty kick rattle him.
The Oak Park-River Forest sophomore calmly waited for his time to kick the ball, then drilled it into the back of the net with 11:49 left in the boys soccer game. The goal held up as the game-winner as the Huskies turned back Glenbard West 1-0 in a West Suburban Conference Silver Division battle Tuesday evening in Oak Park.
Metennani was forced to wait to take his shot while the official explained the foul to Glenbard West coach Maciek Kusmierz.
"I was ready to take it and then the coach called the ref over and so we were waiting," Metennani said. "I think he was deliberately trying to do it to get in my head. There's a lot of pressure when there's a few minutes left and you have to score a penalty. I was just trying to focus and make sure that I would convert it to make sure we win."
It was a tough way for the Hilltoppers (3-11-5, 0-5) to see the contest decided.
"I will not question the referee's call," Kusmierz said. "I just felt in such a high-caliber game where it's a close game that such a call makes a difference and it really deflates the whole effort.
"Honestly, if it was a foul and a PK was given I feel like we had one also in the first half when my forward was brought down inside the box and somehow the referee saw it otherwise. Nothing against Oak Park. I think they're a great team. It's unfortunate that the game had to be decided that way, but that's soccer. There's no justice in the game. Sometimes you have to take it and go on to the next game."
The victory gave the Huskies (13-4-2, 4-2) a third-place finish in the soccer-loaded Silver for the third consecutive season.
OP-RF controlled a lot of the action, but had trouble scoring. The Huskies put six shots on goal in the first half while not allowing Glenbard West any shots on goal, but the teams remained tied at the half.
The Hilltoppers increased their attack in the second half, but never converted on their handful of scoring opportunities. Meanwhile, OP-RF kept the pressure on before finally breaking through thanks to Metennani's goal, which sailed into the left side of the net as Glenbard West goalkeeper Zach Watson guessed right.
"I had left all the way," Metennani said. "I feigned it towards my right though because I saw the goalie was watching me the whole time."
Metennani is now two-for-two in penalty kicks this season.
"It's the same kick," OP-RF coach Paul Wright said. "I've told him over and over, 'Don't change it up. If you strike it at that spot and that speed it's going to go in or the keeper's going to make a helluva save, and you just have to live with it.' "
OP-RF's Chris Ingvaldsen earned the shutout in goal. The senior has filled in for North Carolina recruit Sam Euler, who's been sidelined by mononucleosis.
"He's done great," Wright said of Ingvaldsen.
The Huskies hope to have Euler back in the net for the playoffs. They end the regular season Friday at New Trier, a program that Wright's Huskies have yet to beat.
"Hopefully we'll go over there and finally even up the score a little bit," he said.