Boys Soccer: Naperville Central wins; Metea Valley continues cinderella run

Story Image East Aurora's Danny Miranda reacts after Naperville Central dropped the Tomcats 2-0 in their sectional semifinal Tuesday at West Chicago.
Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media
Story Image

Updated: October 23, 2012 10:26PM



Naperville Central has discovered a new weapon.

After going scoreless during the regular season, senior defender Connor Allen has scored in consecutive playoff games. The converted forward tallied the game-winning goal and assisted on another as the Redhawks eliminated East Aurora 2-0 Tuesday night at the Class 3A West Chicago Sectional semifinals.

“I’ve really been working hard and trying to get a goal and I think it’s just coming to me,” Allen said. “I’m just really glad that all my hard work is finally starting to pay off, not just in wins but in actual goals.”

As he did in Saturday’s regional final win over Waubonsie Valley, Pat Flynn set up Allen’s goal with a free kick. This time Flynn sent a low liner into the box from 32 yards out. Jack Patrick flicked it to his left to Allen, whose short shot in front gave top-seeded Naperville Central (20-1) a 1-0 lead with 11:44 left in the first half.

“It wasn’t exactly the designed play that we had [in mind] but it was sort of similar to something that we have,” Allen said. “We work on a lot of our free kicks during practice and it’s been paying off.”

The goal was demoralizing to fifth-seeded East Aurora, which had been dominating up until that point. The Tomcats (10-8-5) had two excellent early scoring chances but Redhawks goalie Mike Pavliga [six saves] made diving denials on Oswaldo Barajas and Danny Miranda.

The Redhawks made it 2-0 on another restart with 32:02 to go in the second half. Ajay Varghese heaved a long throw-in to Allen, who headed it across the goal mouth to Flynn, who tapped it in for his 27th goal of the season.

“Two errors in the back and it cost us the game,” first-year East Aurora coach Javier Hernandez said. “They played well, but I thought we played a very good game, dominated most of the first half, then we [conceded] that goal. But you continue to play forward and these guys did very well. I’ve been with them for three months, so let’s see what happens when I’ve been with them a year.”

The shutout was the 14th for Naperville Central, which has yet to allow a playoff goal. They will face No. 8 seed Metea Valley (11-6-4), which continued its Cinderella run by edging No. 6 Wheaton-Warrrenville South 1-0.

Senior Jake Goehring scored on a 15-yard header off a cross from Evan Cudone with 17:09 left in the second half and goalie Gabe Gongora made seven saves for the Mustangs, who were making their sectional debut. Gongora saved a penalty kick from the Tigers’ Max Carey with 11:18 remaining and then stopped Yusuf Yusuf’s rebound a split second later.

“I knew coming into this game that I personally have to do everything in my ability to make sure that we made it through,” said Gongora, who sealed the win by making another diving save on Carey with 40 seconds left. “If that meant making a couple of ridiculous saves, I’m going to do it. It was pretty exciting at the end.”

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