Boys Soccer: Sandburg downs Lincoln-Way Central for sectional title

Story Image Lincoln-Way Central's Nick Kowalkowski (19) wins the ball from Sandburg's Alex Rohder (17) during Saturday's sectional game between Sandburg and Lincoln-Way Central high schools. | Paul Bergstrom ~ For Sun-Times Media
Story Image

Updated: October 27, 2012 11:37PM

Lincoln-Way Central made a Cinderella run to the Class 3A Sweet Sixteen.

Sandburg knows a thing or two about Cinderellas and wasn’t about to let one end its season again.

The Eagles turned in a dominant effort and got the match’s only goal from Mike Gentile in a 1-0 win over the host Knights in Saturday’s Lincoln-Way Central Sectional title game.

It’s an achievement that felt extra special for the Eagles (17-5-3) in the wake of last season’s shocking loss to Providence in a regional semifinal.

“As soon as the playoffs started, redemption was on our minds,” Gentile said. “We heard a lot of negative things about us being in the playoffs. This feels great.”

Sandburg will meet Fenwick in Tuesday’s Benedictine University Supersectional. The Knights finished 11-11-2.

The Eagles controlled play in the first half, putting six shots on goal, but were denied by Central goalie Mike Dybala (7 saves).

They broke through three minutes into the second half as Joe Longhi got the ball on the right wing and crossed it to the middle of the box, where Gentile one-timed it past Dybala.

The Knights didn’t threaten often in the first 77 minutes, but they put pressure on in the final two minutes.

On a free kick from 28 yards out, Central’s Jacob Lysik crossed the ball to C.J. Zuraitis, whose header was stopped by Adam Zehme (4 saves).

Zuraitis had the final chance, but his long shot with eight seconds to go was saved.

“Our defense has been phenomenal all year,” Zehme said. “Peter Gertos has been the man at center back. I just try to stay focused and help them out.”

The loss ended a strong run for the Knights, who upset Lincoln-Way East in a sectional semifinal.

“We saw some excitement in the school this past week for the first time in awhile,” Central coach Sean Fahey said. “My guys scrap, they battle their butts off, and I can’t ask for anything more.”

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