Boys soccer: Lopez's spectacular goal sparks Naperville Central
Oswego East kept fighting back against Naperville Central in Tuesday's Class 3A Plainfield North sectional semifinal, but time finally ran out on the Wolves' season.
Playing in uncharted waters after winning the first regional title in program history last Friday, the Wolves saw their unprecedented season come to an end with a 3-2 loss to the Redhawks.
Naperville Central advances to Saturday's sectional title game against Naperville North while Oswego East says goodbye to its seniors and thanks them for an unforgettable year.
"It just didn't work out for us today," said Oswego assistant coach Juan Leal, who was handling head coaching duties with Steve Szymanski out having surgery. "I'm just incredibly proud with how we played. We played with tempo even when we were down 3-1. It was a fighting battle for us and then we got a goal to get within one."
Senior Cael Cummings came crashing in and scored on a ball from DuPablo Parodis-Yu with 2:04 left to pull the Wolves to within 3-2, but the Wolves couldn't stun the Redhawks with an OT-forcing goal.
"We were right there," Leal said. "I think we were the better of the two teams today. A couple plays here or there went right in their favor. It came down to one to two plays that defined the game."
Naperville Central (15-7-1) had turned a 1-1 game into a 2-1 lead after a brilliant bicycle kick goal from senior Mateo Lopez. While the crowd was still buzzing over Lopez's dazzling score, sophomore teammate Carter Adams scored for the second time of the evening on a corner kick to make it3-1.
"I mishit it," Adams said. "Luckily it deflected off their front post guy or my center back, Matt (Driessens) knocked it in."
Lopez had hit his shot perfectly, giving the Redhawks a 2-1 lead with 12:07 left to play.
"I just saw the ball flying in the air and I've had that before, in the regular season, but I hit that bike and it got saved off the crossbar," Lopez said. "I saw this one again so I lined up for it, hit it and luckily it went in."
Oswego East (17-5-1) came out cautiously, surrendering three corner kicks in the first nine minutes. It proved costly as the Redhawks converted their third try, with Adams curling in his attempt with 31:24 left in the opening half.
The Wolves seemingly came to life once they trailed. They earned some solid scoring chances, but couldn't finish anything until senior Kellen Klosterman netted the equalizer with 34:35 left in the game.
"We have our sparks where we'll own the game for 10 or 20 minutes," Oswego East senior Cael Cummings said. "We owned that last 20 minutes of the first half so it really hurt to not put in a goal at the end of the half. That could've been the difference maker. I think a lot of times it is."
The Redhawks did enough to win against a veteran team that came in riding high.
"(Oswego East) played hard and any time you match up with a team that plays as hard as they do it puts you under stress," Redhawks coach Troy Adams said. "You have to react to that stress and I thought in the second half we did a better job even though they got the late goal."
Naperville North will attempt to beat the Redhawks for the third time this season in Saturday's 11 a.m. sectional final.