Boys soccer: Top seed York adjusts, beats West Chicago
York boys soccer coach Jordan Stopka said that the Dukes had to make a little change in strategy Tuesday night against West Chicago.
"They made us play a little differently than we normally do," said Stopka. "We like to play possession and West Chicago had the better run of possession in the center third. We adapted by playing a little bit long and a little more direct. Our kids adapted on the fly and played very well."
And led by a staunch back line and 2 goals by senior forward Kevin Gliatis, York defeated the Wildcats 2-0 in the Class 3A Addison Trail sectional semifinal.
The Dukes will face the winner of Wednesday's St. Charles East-Geneva match Friday in the sectional final.
After the game, Gliatis gave props to his opponents.
West Chicago came in to the game as defending class 3A champs. They won the title 2 years ago, and last season's state finals was canceled due to COVID-19.
"They were a great team then, and they're still a great team," said Gliatis of the Wildcats. "This feels good because they beat us two years ago in the last playoff series. I was sitting on the bench (as a sophomore) during that game, I didn't get a chance to play so it's nice to get a win over them."
West Chicago played well, but couldn't break down the York defense.
"My hat's off to them," said coach Jose Villa of the Dukes. "They're a very good team, skilled, tough and aggressive. They definitely made it challenging for us tonight in so many ways."
Villa also gave a ton of respect to his own squad.
"I have nothing but positive things to say about these guys," said Villa. "They're so hard working, and we have quite a few guys still here from that (championship) team. I shared with them (after the game) how much they've done for this program, and how much we want the next group to do the same."
"I wish our senior class the best as they leave and go on to represent West Chicago somewhere else in the next step of their lives."
In front of a big crowd at Blazer Stadium in Addison, York held off West Chicago early on behind the gritty efforts of Brendan Haran, Ryder Kohl and other Dukes defenders.
Then Gliatis got his first strike 20 minutes in, chipping the ball point-blank past the Wildcats keeper.
"He's a phenomenal player," said Stopka of Gliatis. "Kevin has been dealing with hip issues all year but he keeps powering through and finally he's getting to be almost 100%. You can see when he plays on both sides of the ball how much of an impact he has on the game."
Gliatis made it 2-0 in the 49th minute. Joe Hernandez had the initial shot that was saved by goalie David Ramirez of West Chicago, Ramirez made another great save on a rebound attempt by Sam Musial, but then Gliatis found the ball and scored.
"The ball kind of just bobbled off the goalie," said Gliatis. "I was back post and I just went at it with my body. I saw a loose ball and dove at it and I was able to hit it to the back of the net."
West Chicago had a couple of chances late engineered by seniors Tristan Alfaro and Brian Nieves but couldn't convert them into a goal. The Wildcats almost found pay dirt in the final minute but a great shot by Nathan Sanchez just skittered through the crease.
"We were a little disappointed going into halftime with only a one-goal lead," said Stopka. "You never want a hungry team with their backs against the wall coming out knowing that they could score and then it's anybody's game.
"I told our guys 'you need to get the next goal because West Chicago is going to come out fast', and they did. They (the Wildcats) really kicked it up a notch in the second half."
"The biggest kudos I want to give tonight is to the way we played defensively. Our wingers were getting back and all ten in front of the keeper were playing great defense. We've had shutouts before but this was arguably the sweetest of the season."