Boys soccer: Crystal Lake South wins 4th straight regional title
Crystal Lake South is back where it is accustomed to being in the last week of October, in a sectional tournament.
The No. 1-seeded Gators took advantage of two set plays and controlled play most of the game to defeat No. 9 Wauconda, 2-0, on Saturday for the Class 2A Crystal Lake South regional championship.
South (17-3-2) won its fourth consecutive regional title with goals from Nolan Getzinger and Tomasz Slawek and move on to the Vernon Hills sectional to meet No. 4 Carmel (10-7-2) at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.
"It's always very fun late in the season to play in these big games," Gators midfielder Tommy Coughlin said. "The competition only gets better. I know all of us love competition. It's fun to go back (to the sectional) because everything is on the line. It's another opportunity to have more fun playing."
South won its last two sectionals and went on to win the 2018 state championship, then finished as runner-up in 2019.
"It's a great opportunity for these guys," Gators coach Brian Allen said. "They're not satisfied with where they're at. They have big goals for themselves.
"This is a deep sectional and every team is dangerous. You have to really work and earn it. This is a big first step."
Wauconda lost to South, 5-0, early in the season at its own tournament. The Bulldogs (8-6-3) made a better showing Saturday, but could not generate many quality chances.
"We're a completely different team than we were early in the season," Bulldogs coach Tim Miller said. "We knew it was going to be a different game. We anticipated their physicality. They really come at the first and second balls, they try to win those balls and off of that their offense goes.
"They take pride in their set pieces, as was evident today with two set-piece goals. We're proud of the fact we contained them in the run of play. We're proud that our defense and midfield worked together to limit their opportunities."
South's first goal came with 19:00 remaining in the first half when Slawek took a direct kick from a few yards inside the half line and sent it to the far post, where Getzinger leapt to tap it in with a foot.
Getzinger almost had another goal two minutes later, but his header was knocked away by a Bulldogs defender. The Gators' Brendan Lewis almost added to the lead in the second half when he blasted a shot from about 25 yards out that hit the crossbar.
Eventually, it was Slawek who headed in a corner kick from Deven Tinajero inside the near post.
"Deven put it on the goal and all I had to do was get a little touch," Slawek said. "Being 6-foot-4 is nice. It gave us a little relief (up 2-0).
"From the beginning they save back with a back five. We knew they weren't going to have much going forward, they were going to try to get on the counter. We just made sure we looked at No. 7 (Austin Fink) and No. 18 (Jacob Kotapka), their bigger guys and locked them down."
South finished with 10 shots on goal to Wauconda's two.
"The first half wasn't our best half," Coughlin said. "We realized we could keep the ball a little bit more and create more by looking for different outlets and always being diverse when we were attacking.
"And it helps when you have such a good back line. Out outside backs (Dayton Murphy and Andrew Smart) got up and helped in the attack too. Huge shout-out to them."
Allen appreciated the way the Gators maintained control through the game.
"Our work rate today was really consistent for a full 80," he said. "That goes a long way in the playoffs where you're doing little details and not letting them get comfortable in the and space to allow them to play they way they like to play."