St. Joseph edges St. Viator on PK's
St. Joseph robbed St. Viator of a place in the Class 2A state boys championship match in the cruelest of fashions on Friday.
The Chargers outlasted the Lions in a shootout, 5-4, to earn the 4-3 victory in a state semifinal contest at Hoffman Estates High School.
St. Joseph (23-0-1) converted all five of its spot kicks while keeper Jonathan Rosales stopped Javier Romero in the last round to secure a spot against No. 1 Wheaton Academy (24-1-1) in today's state final at 1 p.m.
"It's not a very nice way to finish," said a Lions coach Mike Taylor, who brought his club into the tournament flying high on a 10-game winning streak.
The Lions (21-6-1) will face Springfield in Saturday's third-place match at 11 a.m.
"We totally dominated them in that first half, but missed on a couple of great chances which could have put us up 4, or 5-0 at the half," Taylor said. "And they got some life back after their first goal at the start of the second half. After that, we just weren't the same team we were in that first half."
Zach Gyuricza beat Rosales in the fifth minute after a superb early ball from Ryan Carroll up the left side sprung the senior, who steered in his 18th of the season.
The Chargers had plenty of trouble defending the long throws from Chris Beiersdorf during the first period.
Rosales was forced into action to stop Aidan Williams at 17 minutes.
But Rosales could do nothing when Gyuricza's powerful free kick came across the face of the goal and fell onto Williams' foot. Williams redirected for his 20th goal of the year.
"We were just plan awful in that first half," said Chargers coach Stan Niemiec, whose club had never trailed by 2 goals all season.
Niemiec watched with disbelief when Williams had Rosales far out of position, only to miss on his chance to make it 3-0 just before intermission.
"It could have been worse than 2-0 at the break, but I told the guys just get back to playing Charger soccer, and we'll be fine," Niemiec said. "And after Aaron (Rivera) scored our first, the guys got some confidence, and started playing."
Rivera's nicely-paced angled shot from the right side made it 2-1 just eight minutes into the second period.
Eduardo Guiterrez breathed even more life into the Chargers' tournament run four minutes later to draw his club back even in the 52nd minute.
Once into the first extra 10-minute session, play opened up as both sides produced potent attacking play.
But it was St. Joseph which had the early break-through. Gutierrez once again out ran the last man to collect a ball from Toni Orozco. He then went past Lions keeper, Aaron Tres in the 85th minute.
Williams canceled out the Gutierrez goal with his second of the day, which came at 96 minutes and put the wheels in motion for a shootout to decide the outcome.
Once there, Williams, Gyuricza, Miles McDonnell and Anthony Pineda converted, while their counterparts matched each one.
Rosales guessed correctly, stopping Rivera to his right and sending the Chargers' faithful into a frenzy.
"It's never easy losing like that, and I know the guys don't feel very good right now," Taylor said. "But the sun will come out tomorrow, and we will come here and go out and play to win the third-place trophy."