Boys Soccer: Warren punches return trip ticket to state semis

Story Image Barrington 10/30/12
Warren's Elijah Parker (15)
| Michelle LaVigne ~ Sun-Times Media
Story Image

Updated: October 30, 2012 10:06PM

The two goals Warren scored over 55 seconds midway through the first half of Tuesday’s Class 3A supersectional 2-1 win over Barrington was typical Blue Devil soccer.

Holding powerful St. Charles East scoreless in the second half — an effort anchored by goalie R.J. Hill’s near-miracle save — was not.

In the end, it took offense, defense and goalkeeping all working together to secure the Blue Devils’ victory, which secured their second straight appearance in the state semifinals at Lincoln-Way North in Frankfort.

Warren will play Sandburg in the state semifinals. Last year, Warren lost twice on the final weekend to finish fourth in the state.

This weekend, they’ll try to finish what last year’s team started.

“To go downstate once in a coaching career is special, but to go down in back-to-back years is extremely special,” said Warren coach Jason Ahonen. “It’s because of our senior leadership and playing solid in the back ... you’re not going to win at this level unless you have a great defense.”

After conceding a goal in the 13th minute, Warren got even in the 22nd minute when Nick Wegrzynowicz headed home a chip into the box by Daniel Szczepanek.

Less than a minute later, Sczepanek’s flip throw-in went to Sean Kirwan at the top of the box, and his hard grounder was deflected home by Karl Bappert for the Blue Devils’ second goal.

“Sean ripped a shot. The keeper was off-balance and I was able to direct it with my foot into the corner,” said Bappert.

That was all the scoring, thanks to unheralded sophomore keeper R.J. Hill.

In the 64th minute, St. Charles East’s top scorer went 1-on-1 with Hill, and the goalie stoned him, coming off his line in the box and taking the ball off his foot.

“I was just coming out and trying to make myself big,” Hill said. “You just try to take up as much space as you can and give him no angle to shoot.”

The last 16 minutes, Warren held its ground, as Hill finished with seven saves.

“Coach said at the start of the season we had a huge bull’s-eye on our back,” said Bappert. “When we lost some games, that bull’s-eye got smaller and people started doubting us, but we knew we belonged here. We made a checklist at the start of the season. This was another check. There are two checks left.”

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