Boys Soccer: Larkin edges South Elgin in penalty kicksKevin Kurtz (right) celebrates with St. Charles East teammates Taylor Ortiz, and Eric Dietrich (11) after scoring a goal against Streamwood. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 24, 2012 3:57PM
Larkin squeaked out a 2-1 victory over South Elgin thanks to a 4-3 penalty kick advantage after the sixth attempt in Tuesday’s second semifinal in order to fill the role of underdog to challenge St. Charles East, the top dog within the Elmhurst York Class 3A Sectional.
The No. 3 seed Royals (15-5-4) are hoping a late-season four-match win streak is momentum enough to derail a Saints powerhouse that has won 10 straight and gone 13-0-1 over its last 14 contests including a 4-0 shutout of Streamwood. The two sides meet in Friday’s 4:30 pm championship.
Larkin fell behind five minutes into the match when South Elgin’s Owen Bott parked a rebound putback into the net just 4:07 into the contest. However, the Royals got the equalizer 11:58 prior to halftime when Jazael Medina scored off an Erik Rodriguez assist. Even with two 10-minute overtime sessions, the 1-1 deadlock remained after 100 minutes to force the penalty kick shootout.
Even the first series of five didn’t determine a winner, producing the golden goal shootout. South Elgin’s Daniel Hopkins opened with a shot off the top crossbar and then Freddy Alvarez became the Royals’ hero as he aimed inside the left post with Storm goalie Tyler Shipon diving toward the opposite post.
“That’s my side,” Alvarez said in explaining that he simply made up his mind where to shoot. “You either make Pks or miss them, and I didn’t want to miss.”
“Pks are a tough way to win or lose,” Larkin coach Ken Hall said. “I basically sit there saying ‘come on, make it.’ Thankfully this one worked out in our favor. Considering we were missing two key players (Tony Hernandez and Junior Escalante), we’re glad to advance and get another shot at East.”
Larkin’s four straight wins began with a victory in the regular-season finale which put an end to an eight-match winless streak (0-4-4). For South Elgin, the season of frustrations ends at 9-12-3.
“If you’re going to end your season you want to go out battling and that’s what we did,” Storm coach John Uveges insisted. “ When I think about the injuries, ineligibilities that forced us to bring players up, it was a tough year but we finally started playing like the team we thought we could be late in the season. To that end, I told our seniors to not hang their heads.”
While the two squads are in opposite UEC divisions, Uveges admitted that Larkin has been a thorn to the Storm with the Royals having beaten South in last year’s cross over meeting and in regional finals during the two previous seasons.
In the opening semifinal, St. Charles East improved to 19-2-1 for the year and avenged one of its two losses in beating the Sabres. The Saints, the Upstate Eight Conference River Division champion at 5-1, lost an Aug. 28 visit to Streamwood (13-8), which stopped East’s season-opening five-match win streak.
East got on the scoreboard just 11:32 into the contest when Taylor Ortiz fed a stellar set-up to Eric Dietrich for the junior’s ninth goal of the year off a six-yard finish near the right post.
“When I took it down the line, I saw guys in the box and figured if I got it through one of them would finish and that’s what Eric did,” Ortiz noted. “We always try to score early and set the tempo, plus when you do the hard work to get the ball in, it feels that much better when a teammate puts it in the net.”
“It was a great cross from Taylor, so I just had to flick it past the keeper,” Dietrich. We’ve got some great team chemistry going and just want to keep advancing.”
The Saints took a 2-0 lead when Andrew Shone fed T.C. Hull for a four-yarder from right of center.
“The ball came through the middle off Shone’s pass and with the keeper coming out, I just went far post,” Hull said of his team-best 28th goal.
St. Charles scored 16:49 into the second half when Kevin Kurtz followed up on the block of his first shot for a putback and the senior then earned an assist on Zach Manibog’s goal that came with 7:43 remaining.
“Streamwood might be the best team we’ve played recently but we got caught up in the emotion a little and we’re at our best, but the lads put four on the board and this time of the year it’s all about doing the job, which today was advancing from the semifinals,” East coach Paul Jennison explained.
Mike Novotny worked the opening half and Chris Lucatorto was in net for the second half as the juniors combined to post the Saints’ 12th clean sheet of the season.
Fresh off the school’s first-ever regional plaque for boys soccer, Sabres coach Matt Polovin remained pleased with his club’s effort.
“We didn’t change our game plan from the first time, it just wasn’t working as well today,” Polovin admitted. “This season for this program is simply great and we can’t take anything from East. They’re playing with a great deal of confidence and have an excellent group that knows how to attack and finish.”