Boys soccer: Timothy Christian advances to 1A supersectional
Timothy Christian realized that its best chance to score was going to come on a set piece -- so when it received one early in the second overtime during Saturday's scoreless Class 1A Lisle sectional championship game against Cristo Rey, it took advantage.
On a play that started on a free kick from 35 yards out from senior Chris Cruz, sophomore Josh McMillian headed it in after two teammates redirected the ball, breaking the tie and sparking the Trojans to a 3-1 victory.
They advance to Tuesday's Stagg supersectional and will face Beecher with a trip to state on the line.
"When we got the free kick we knew that set pieces are a strength of ours so we put one on (frame)," Cruz said. "It got touched by a few different people and got into the back of the net."
Cruz served a ball high into the penalty area where fellow senior Ethan Lemkuil was able to get a flick on the ball. Junior Ethan Munk then put his head on it, which certainly caught McMillian's eye.
"It was fantastic," McMillian said. "I saw it off of (Munk's) head and I just went up and hit it with my head. If you're there, you're there and you just got to be there in the moment. I said 'This is all mine,' and just headed it in."
Cristo Rey (13-6-2) was more dangerous than Timothy Christian (17-2-3) but the Trojans got tough when the Cristeros' attacked and goalkeeper Peter Buikema was up to the task of making saves when called upon to do so.
"We knew coming in they were going to be a strong team, very possession-oriented," Trojans coach Joel Zielke said. "Everyone, one through 11, was super technical. They were probably the most technical team we've played against this season. They had big stretches where they owned the game and we had to really sit in and defend and weather the storm."
The Trojans hit a post early in the first half, but it was the Cristo Rey that had the better of the opportunities for the majority of the game.
"We were kind of out of sorts at the start," Zielke said. "We had a couple chances early and set pieces. We hit a post. There were balls that were flicked on but nobody was going to the keeper. But as the game grew we kind of grew into it as well."
After breaking the tie, the Trojans weren't satisfied as Grayson Haywood set up McMillian to make it 2-0 with 3:57 left in the second OT. Then, just 28 seconds later, Cruz scored.
"I like our team's fitness so I knew the more we played the better it was going to show up here," Zielke said. "In the first overtime you kind of saw that where there were stretches where we were dominating and creating chances and in the second overtime, they showed they're a resilient group. They're not ready to go home yet and they really showed that there."
Cristo Rey senior Freddy Cardenas lined in a shot with 34.9 seconds left to break the shutout, but that meant little to the Trojans, especially guys like Cruz that remembered losing in a sectional final in 2019 to U-High on PKs. U-High moved on and ultimately won the Class 1A state title.
"We were their closest game and if won PKs we would've been state champs," Cruz said. "So we didn't want to go there (PKs) again. We put in three in five minutes so goals come in bunches for us."