Boys soccer: Schoffstall's last-minute goal sends Fremd to state
In a moment of brilliance, Eli Schoffstall sent Fremd into this weekend's Class 3A state tournament when his wonder goal in the 78th minute helped the Vikings defeat Oak Park-River Forest Tuesday night in a thrilling supersectional.
Next up for Schoffstall and his teammates will be Morton (21-1-3) in a 7 p.m. state semifinal Friday at Garber Stadium at tourney host Hoffman Estates.
"When the ball left my foot I knew it was going in. So I looked to our fans, and couldn't believe we were just two minutes away from going to state," said Schoffstall, who recently was named All-State for the second consecutive season.
"This is something we've all been talking about from the very first day we began to train together (and) it's finally here, but we're still not done," added Dimitri Vlahos, whose voracious tackle and subsequent interception deep in the Huskies' end led to the eventual game-winner. Vlahos played a perfect ball to Schoffstall who unloaded his 20-yard unstoppable cracker that found the upper corner.
"We started out slow, but the game slowly evened out, and I thought we had a lot of the play in the second half. But that one mistake is what cost us," said OPRF coach, Jason Fried, a 2000 Naperville North grad who played for Hall-of-Fame coach David Bucher.
The Huskies (19-4-3), who recently sent off the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds in its sectional, New Trier and Evanston, found themselves under pressure during the first quarter hour. The Vikings used the extra wide pitch at Barrington Community Stadium to enjoy 75% of the possession with quick, precise passing, and some crafty work while building its attack.
"We played a very good first half, but (they) came out so much stronger after the break and kept the pressure up, especially during a 10-15 (minute) stretch when it seemed like we were chasing the ball, and the game," said Vikings coach Steve Keller, whose club is back in the state tournament for the 10th time in program history, and first since 2014 when it claimed the fourth-place trophy.
"(They) are a very good team -- the best we've seen this season," continued Keller. "Their back line plays smart, they have a very good group of midfielders, and their No. 14 (Easton Bogard) is an very dangerous player, who we did well to keep him from getting good looks on frame."
The sophomore Bogard entered this contest with 29 goals, and on a couple of occasions provided a nervous moment or two for the Vikings faithful. But as it has all season long, the MSL champions' back line was watertight in front of keeper Robby Remian, who turned in a superb effort as did his mates in front of him: Adrian Blonski, Braden Roos, Beck Smolak and Ryan Sapiente, who had to step into the back from his spot up top when senior Caden Statz was forced out due to an injury.
When this hard-fought affair seemed destined to go to extra time, up stepped Schoffstall who bagged his 12th of the year, and the most important of his career two minutes from time.
"This is what we worked so hard for. It's an amazing feeling to advance, and with all of the guys who I've known and played with for so long, and now we'll get back to work and get ready for our first game on Friday at state," said Schoffstall.