CALUMET CITY | If the T.F. United are going to claim any share of the South Suburban Conference title, they are going to have to play perfect soccer the rest of the season.
The United fell 2-1 in overtime to SSC foe, Shepard, Tuesday evening at T.F. North.
Jose Sandoval scored the lone United goal. The United were beat on an Astro shot from midfield that caught Thornton Fractional keeper, Gabriel Gutierrez, out of position and sailed over his head for the winning goal.
"There wasn't that energy we usually have," Sandoval said. "It took until they scored that we realized what we were doing, and we have to wake up. But you can't do that in soccer, you have to be going hard from the first minute."
Thornton Fractional came out flat the entire first half and played the Astros to a 0-0 stalemate into the second half.
Shepard's Colin McGhee gave the Astros a 1-0 lead on a penalty kick midway through the second half. Only after the team was trailing 1-0, did the United begin to pick up their intensity.
"The first half we were flat," United coach Alejandro Lagunas said. "I think they dictated the tempo by just being physical. It almost took them to score for us to try to pick it up a little bit."
Sandoval's goal came with just six minutes remaining in the second half and was a free kick from outside the top of the Shepard penalty box.
"I saw the goalie peek a little bit to the left," Sandoval said. "So instead of covering his post, he was completely on my side. So, I just looked up and sent it up into the corner."
The United (8-3, 3-2) were unable to capitalize on numerous scoring chances late and in overtime, and forced Shepard keeper Fuad Abuzarr into 12 saves on the match. Gutierrez finished with six saves for the United.
"If you don't take advantage of your opportunities and let these teams stay in the game, this is what's going to happen," Lagunas said.
"We're not mathematically out of it (but) we've made it difficult for ourselves. We have to win out. We have to be more consistent when we come out to play."