St. Charles East dominated Larkin en route to an 8-1 victory in Friday’s York Sectional final of the Class 3A playoffs.
After claiming a first-round regional win, Larkin players were quoted as saying they wanted a rematch with the Saints in the sectional final. The Saints (20-2-1), who beat Larkin in conference play during the regular season, broke loose for six goals in the second half to put the game away.
St. Charles East, on a 16-match unbeaten (15-0-1) streak, advances to Tuesday’s (7 p.m.) Barrington Supersectional against Warren, which defeated Barrington 2-1 in another sectional final.
St. Charles East scoring leader T.C. Hull (31 goals this season) put on a show against Larkin recording his second hat trick of the year. With 20:56 elapsed, a ball ricocheted in front of Hull for a 19-yard blast from right of center for his first goal. With 1:47 left until intermission, a collision between Larkin’s Michael Gomez and East’s Kevin Kurtz earned both players yellow cards. Hull then bent a 15-yard direct free kick around the Royals’ defensive wall for another score. Hull then used an Andrew Shone set-up for a 12-yard goal from the left wing 5:25 minutes into the second half.
“We were all pumped up for this one and once we got that first goal, that proved to be a huge boost,” Hull said.
Larkin almost scored with 30:10 remaining in the game, but Tito Velazquez’s header sailed over the goal. Although Royals keeper Aldair Dominguez managed two big saves on Hull blasts, the Saints ultimately iced the game with a three-goal flurry in an 11-minute span.
Elliot Welter’s assist led to a Shone header goal and reserve Daniel DiLeonardi provided St. Charles East’s second hat trick of the day. DiLeonardi tallied the first two goals of his hat trick extending the Saints’ lead to 6-0 before Larkin was awarded a penalty kick opportunity, which Erik Rodriguez converted with 7:01 to make the score 6-1.
Zach Manibog restored the Saints’ six-goal lead at 7-1 lead 34 seconds later with a goal, and DiLeonardi netted his third goal with 5:10 left to invoke the IHSA seven-goal mercy rule.
“That was as good a performance as we’ve had all year. I thought we played absolutely fantastic,” St. Charles East coach Paul Jennison said. “They’re not eight goals worse than us, but an indication of how these boys are on a roll is that an 8-1 sectional final doesn’t happen often.”
Larkin, which ended the season 15-6-4, was missing two prominent starters in Tony Hernandez and Junior Esclante, and had several others hobbling.
“(St. Charles East) is probably the best team we’ve played all year,” Larkin coach Ken Hall said. “We’ve played some quality teams like Morton and others in the Pepsi Showdown, but I also know if this was just a regular-season match, we had three guys out there who would not have been playing. I’m not taking anything away from them nor do I want to make excuses, but I just wish we had our true lineup.”