Phillip Gutman has a long memory and the sting of losing at home to Oak Park-River Forest in the state tournament. “We felt gypped because we didn’t even get to play a full game,” the Hinsdale Central senior midfielder said.
He engineered his own payback.
His assist to Ryan Schwartz provided the crucial early lead and his own goal proved the difference as the No. 2 Red Devils upended their conference rivals and No. 7 Huskies 2-1 in an Argo Class 3A Sectional semifinal Tueday night in Summit.
The score was identical to their West Suburban Silver game last month. The Huskies beat Hinsdale Central in a lightening-shortened game last year.
Gutman helped the Red Devils (18-3-3) break through in the 21st minute. He floated a corner that senior defender Ryan Schwartz headed for a 1-0 Hinsdale Central advantage. “It was a great header by Schwartz to score there,” Gutman said. “That is something we practice a lot, hitting the ball to the six (yard box).”
Oak Park-River Forest (14-8-1) suffered a serious blow after leading scorer, senior forward Noe Espinoza sustained a broken collarbone in the 44th minute. Star senior midfielder Gianluca Lo Casto played with a cast on his forearm after suffering a hand injury against Morton.
Playing from behind only appeared to strengthen the Huskies’ resolve. They were the aggressors of the second half. Hinsdale Central junior keeper Mitchell Meyer, who normally plays the second half, made a great diving stop of Lo Casto in the 51st minute. He also made superb diving deflections of free kicks by Okker Verhagen.
“Okker is on my club team, so I knew he could hit the ball well,” Meyer said.
Gutman provided the necessary breathing space when he controlled a ball in the Huskies’ box they were unable to clear. Originating from senior Mike Krohn’s throw in, Gutman gathered the ball and punched it in in the 74th minute.
“I remember in the first half we had a similar play and their keeper kind of bobbled the ball,” Gutman said. “Mike has been really good on the throw ins, and the ball just went my way.”
The score proved crucial after sophomore Oak Park-River Forest defender, Madin Gill, responded a minute later on a free kick that curled inside the near post for the Huskies. “Obviously anytime you give up a goal it’s frustrating, but fortunately the score was not zero-zero, and I knew there wasn’t much time left and I just had to settle down,” Meyer said.
The Huskies staged several valiant shots in final moments, including a header by Max Menzies that was just wide. Hinsdale Central coach Michael Wiggins credited the Red Devils’ tough seasons slate.
“All year what has made us a strong team has been our ability to find each other and connect,” he said. “I also go back to strength of schedule, and we have been preparing for this moment, of playing in a state playoff atmosphere, every day for the last couple of months.”