Boys Soccer: Westminster Christian advances to regional final

Story Image Westminster Christian Academy's Nick Gnan (2) high fives Westminster Christian Academy's against Christian Liberty Academy during the first half of their IHSA Class 1A Westminster Soccer Regional in Elgin Tuesday. October 9, 2012. The Warriors won the game 2-1. | John Konstantaras~For Sun-Times Media
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Updated: October 9, 2012 8:51PM

Sam Carani is the epitome of a talker.

The Westminster Christian boys soccer goalkeeper constantly barks guidance to his defensemen and offers words of encouragement to all his teammates.

“That’s the way I think is best to stay involved in the game, because in the beginning, I used to lose focus when I wouldn’t get a lot of action,” Carani said.

Carani’s play between the pipes provided two critical saves on penalty kicks by No. 4 Christian Liberty Academy, securing a 2-1 win for the top-seeded and host Warriors in a Class 1A regional semifinal match in Elgin on Tuesday.

“We definitely got lucky [on those penalty kicks],” Carani said. “But I got lucky and guessed right both times and they kicked it there.”

Warriors forward Robert Kleczynski, whose goal with 11 minutes left before halftime turned out to be the game-winner, said there are aspects of his team’s game that need to improve for their next match.

“We need to definitely tighten up our defense,” Kleczynski said. “We definitely need a few more shots. But if we can play more disciplined on defense, I think we’ll be all right.”

The victory advances the Warriors to Friday’s 4 p.m. title match. Westminster Christian will play the winner of Wednesday’s matchup between No. 2 seed Elgin Academy and No. 3 seed St. Edward.

Christian Liberty Academy’s first penalty kick came in the opening minute of the game, but senior David Colbert’s shot failed to go in.

“We just tried to pressure high,” said Eric Schwartz, Westminster Christian coach. “We figured if we can get into their end and defend in their end, that’s going to keep us out of our half most the game — so that was our game plan.”

The Warriors’ first goal came two minutes in on a Tim Rodgers’ kick. Christian Liberty Academy answered right back, though, as Colbert blasted a shot to tie the score.

Colbert’s tally would be the Chargers’ only shot on goal in the first half. Opportunities to score in the first half became even bleaker, as the Warriors’ stifling defense kept the Chargers’ offense in check. Christian Liberty ended the game with five shots on goal.

“[Westminster Christian] defended us well, they were aggressive, and we couldn’t get anything through,” Colbert said.

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