Boys Soccer: Hinckley-Big Rock loses in 1A state semifinals

Updated: October 26, 2012 11:37PM

Hinckley-Big Rock knew what was coming Friday night at The Corn Crib in Normal, but the Royals stil couldn’t stop it in a 4-3 loss to Alton Marquette in the semifinals of the Class 1A playoffs.

“There were no surprises today,” Hinckley-Big Rock coach Paul Taeuber said. “All the people, all the scouting reports, you could see it in their warm-ups, they practice corners and they’re tough in the air. … They were tougher, a little taller and they held their ground.”

Marquette, which converted both of its two corner kicks into goals, overcame a 2-1 halftime deficit with three unanswered goals in the second half. The Explorers, winners of 11 straight, improve to 18-6-1 and will play for their first state championship against University from Urbana at 5 p.m.. Earlier in the day, Hinckley Big-Rock (22-5) and will meet Keith Country Day in the third-place match (3 p.m.).

The Royals owned play early and nearly took a lead against Alton Marquette when Bernie Conley’s free kick from 30 yards banged off the crossbar and landed just outside the goal line. The Royals followed with a header off the rebound, but that shot at an open net sailed high.

Four minutes later, Alton Marquette struck on Noah Johnes’ headball off a corner kick from Matt Hampton for a 1-0 Explorers lead.

“From the way my team’s played, generally speaking,” Taeuber said, “we come out and if we score first it’s a different mentality.”

That psychological edge was now Alton Marquette’s, though the Royals responded with goals by Zach Michels and Conley to take a 2-1 lead to the half. The goal was the 35th for Conley and the 19th for Michels.

But the Hinckley-Big Rock attack that came in averaging nearly four goals a game went dormant, while the Explorers took control in the second half. Nick Schranck’s header for a goal, off a rebound following Adam Johnes’ header off the post, tied the match at 2-2 less than two minutes into the half.

Hampton put Alton Marquette up with a goal at 57:58 and struck again nine minutes later to extend the Explorers’ lead to 4-2. Hinckley-Big Rock pressured late and pulling within 4-3 on Billy Weissinger’s goal off a rebound from Conley’s hard shot off a dead ball with 6:30 left, but the equalizer never came for the Royals.

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