Boys soccer: Fremd holds off Morton to reach Class 3A state title game
In a tense 80-minute thriller Friday night in Hoffman Estates, Fremd and Morton, the top two teams in Class 3A soccer put on a sensational show at Garber Stadium in a state semifinal contest before over 5,500 fans.
Eli Schoffstall fired Fremd past Morton and into the 3A state final for the first time since 1997. But it was teammate Robby Remian who came to the rescue to ensure the Vikings' hard-fought 1-0 win, sending the 21-2-1 Mid-Suburban League champions into Saturday's state title game against York at 7 p.m.
"Robby was ridiculously amazing out there tonight," said Schoffstall, who bagged his second straight game-winner just inside 5 minutes with a free kick that found the upper left corner from 22 yards.
"Three incredible saves from (Remian) helped keep us in the game, and our pressure defense helped keep No. 10 (Giovanni Alvarez) and their other great players in front of us all night to help get a big win tonight," added Schoffstall, who has now scored in four consecutive postseason games.
"We knew coming in that Morton was just a great team, with so many great individual players, so we all had to step up tonight, including myself. I just had to do my job when we needed it most," said Remian.
The Vikings' march into the final has been possible with some terrific team defending, timely scoring and attacking, plus magnificent work between the sticks by Remian, who on Friday was simply superb when it looked as if the Mustangs (21-2-3) would get back even and go ahead.
The Vikings would open brightly, finding the opener early on, then slowly watched the brilliant play of the Alvarez and teammates Max Aquino and Deyair Ruiz go to work creating, and causing trouble in the Vikings' end.
"We had our chances out there tonight, some very good chances, but their keeper played great and we made that early mistake of giving No. 10 (Schoffstall) that free kick, which he buried," said Mustangs coach Jim Bageanis, whose club will play Lockport Saturday at 5 p.m., in the third-place game.
Remian would stop Alvarez twice in the first half from finding the back of the net his second just before the intermission a remarkable effort as the junior pulled Alvarez' 20-yard free kick out of the air as he went horizontal, somehow holding onto the ball when he hit the ground and not allowing the ball to spill free inside his box.
Remian's counterpart, Daniel Martinez, kept his club in the game with a late save on a blistering attempt from Schoffstall that was clearly on the way in if not for Martinez's marvelous save in the 53rd minute.
The action would increase twofold during the final 20 minutes of regulation with the Mustangs looking to equalize and the Vikings hoping to double their advantage.
Will Mayer and Demetri Vlahos each went just wide with their near-perfect sublime touches ten minutes from time, while on the other end Jonathan Murillo hit his left-footed free kick wide of the near post before an early ball set Ismael Zepeda free into the Vikings' box where a brave tackle from Beck Smolak ended the threat.
"Morton is an amazing team, they really are. They made us work hard all night in our own end, but the guys were up to the challenge, as was Robby, and our entire roster, which we used almost everyone we dressed. That's a tribute to the depth of this team," said a proud Vikings coach Steve Keller.
"It's always tough to lose a hard-fought game like this, especially at this point in the season when you're going after a chance to play for a state title, but we fell a little short, and credit to Fremd, they played well tonight," said Bageanis.