Boys Soccer: Morton outlasts Naperville Central in OT, claims 3A
Updated: November 5, 2011 9:53PM
It was a dream deferred though not denied. Joel Salmeron made sure of it.
The Morton midfielder drilled a left-footed blast from about 12 yards out past Naperville Central star keeper Mike Pavliga 1 minute, six seconds into overtime that gave the Mustangs the dramatic 1-0 Class 3A state championship Saturday night at Lincoln-Way North.
It was the first soccer state championship in school history for the Mustangs (24-3-1).
“This is an amazing feeling,” Salmeron said, tears streaming down his face. “I’ve been dreaming about this ever since my freshman year and now it’s happened, my senior year.”
Making its second state championship appearance, Naperville Central (19-5) finished runner up, the first time since 1988.
Salmeron scored off a beautiful give and go with Alonso Torres.
“I just saw there was a gap in the midfield,” Salmeron said. “I saw the opening and I just went for it.”
Torres also credited Jesus Morales.
“Jesus kind of popped the ball up into the air, and I was able to control and push it ahead,” Torres said. “I wasn’t even sure it was Joel, but I heard his voice. After that we just all started running.”
Amazingly, the season almost ended before it started for Salmeron. He suffered sprained MCL three days before the season-opening game against Naperville North. “Fortunately it wasn’t torn, it was just sprained,” Morton coach Mike Caruso said.
Salmeron missed the team’s first eight games.
“We had other kids step up in his absence, and then once he came back, things just started clicking for us, especially in the state tournament,” Caruso said. “It could not have been a more fitting player, our best player, a senior and somebody who came back from injury,” he said.
Morton senior keeper Miguel Chacon registered five saves, including two superb stops late in the second half.
“I just knew that if we were going to win the state championship, I couldn’t allow any goals,” he said. Chacon received a brilliant assist from Joel Leon, who headed out a shot directly in front of the Mustangs’ goal.
Otherwise, the match was nearly dead even. Morton had nine shot attempts to the Redhawks’ eight. Pavliga also had five saves, including a remarkable lunge that tipped away a Marcos Romo’s bullet from about 35 yards out with 1:43 remaining in regulation.
“It was the classic story of two great teams going at it, with a lot of intensity and each trying their hardest to score,” Naperville Central coach Troy Adams said.
“We had our chances to score, but that is the cruel nature of soccer, that even when your heart starts to race and you think you’re about to score, something happens to prevent it.”
In the third-place game, Fremd outlasted Warren 2-1 on penalty kicks. The shootout required eight attempts, and it was not decided until Sean Kirwan blasted a ball into the left corner for the Vikings (17-6-2).
“There was never any doubt in my mind it was going in,” Kirwan said.
Fremd won the shootout 7-6.
Star Brian Hindle forced the extra session when he scored on a direct kick with 43 seconds to play. Nick Wegrzynowicz scored on a header off a corner kick from Daniel Szczepnaek for the Blue Devils (22-5-3).