Qudus Lawal leads Mather
Updated: October 28, 2011 9:48PM
Junior forward Qudus Lawal continued his soccer field magic as he pulled off another hat trick to lead Mather to a sectional title in its 6-1 victory over Fenwick Friday night.
Lawal mystified opponents for the second time in as many games in the Class 2A Ridgewood Sectional, scoring four times in just one half in a 6-2 win over Lake View Tuesday. He left the Friday’s contest midway through the second half with the No. 2-seeded Rangers safely in front of the No. 5 Friars (12-6-3) as they head into Tuesday’s DeKalb Super-Sectional matchup.
Lawal scored Mather’s first goal at the 23:19 mark on an assist from another senior forward, teammate Chizom Ogbonna.
“I saw my supporting forward with the ball in front and I knew he was looking to get the ball to me,” Lawal said. “He did, and I put it in the net. Teamwork wins games for us, and we did that well again tonight.”
The Rangers controlled play for most of the first 40 minutes, but still led only 2-1 at halftime. After Lawal’s goal, Fenwick came back from a set kick from junior Jack Alberts to junior Mike Nowicki, who put a header past Mather goal keeper Edwin Vasquez (four saves) to knot the score at 1-1 with 18:24 left in the first half.
Mather took the lead back for good with 9:41 to play when junior midfielder Eseh Godman blasted a shot past Fenwick goalie Jacob Peterson (three saves) from 12 yards away.
Despite Mather’s dominance, Fenwick hung close until Lawal ignited the Rangers with his second goal just under 2 minutes into the second half. Twenty-seven seconds later (37:28), senior forward Steven Younus joined the scoring barrage, with Lawal setting up the goal this time as Mather suddenly jumped out to a 4-1 advantage.
“Coach told us, ‘Guys, on defense just watch out for their corner kicks. They can score on those but on the ground they just can’t compete with our quickness,’ ” Lawal said. “So in the second half we forced the play against them and took advantage of all our chances.
Fenwick tried in vain to come back, but a save by Vasquez on another header attempt gave the ball back to Mather and they put the ball in the Friars’ net again when a shot by senior Hassan Ibrahim hit the crossbar and Ogbonna slammed home the rebound to make it 5-1.
Lawal chalked up his fifth hat trick of the season at the 25:04 mark when he took a pass from Ogbonna and booted it past the goalie for his third goal of the game and seventh of the sectionals.
Fenwick head coach Robert Watson said his squad went up against a very tough Mather squad, fell behind early and could not recover.
“We went up against a very nice opponent, got behind real, real quick and just never got back on top of our game,” Watson admitted. “We didn’t play our best game when we needed it. In a big atmosphere like this it definitely was a momentum game and they got it early in the second half when they scored those two quick goals – and the team that has the momentum usually wins. But I tip my hat to them, they are a good team.”
Mather coach Branko Cvijovic said his team was well-prepared for the Friars’ style of play.
“We practiced well for them, for their style of play. We knew they were good from their set pieces, and that if we kept the ball on the ground it would take their power advantage away from them,” he said. “They are a very technical, very skilled, very well-coached team, and we knew if they didn’t score from their set pieces that there was no way we could lose this game. They didn’t take a shot on goal except from the set the whole game – and we know offensively nobody can stop us.”
Mather will face Riverside-Brookfield Sectional championship winner No. 9 St. Francis at 5 p.m. Tuesday in DeKalb after its 2-0 upset win over No. 2 St. Joseph.