Timing is everything - and Saturday morning was not a good time for Rolling Meadows to be playing Morton.
Top-seeded Morton was already stinging from its stunning upset to Plainfield Central on Thursday and a spot in the quarterfinals at the Pepsi Showdown was still at large at rainy Lyons Township in the third and final match in pool play.
Meadows, filled with plenty of energy and incentive to continue Morton's tourney woes, gave a valiant effort for nearly an hour. But state-ranked Morton struck for 4 second-half goals en route to a 6-0 victory.
With the victory, and a very confusing tie-breaker system, Morton advanced over Lake Zurich, and will continue its stay in the championship bracket, taking on No. 7 Geneva next Thursday.
"We played (Morton) extremely well for 50-plus minutes today, but that is a talented, well-coached team, which just ran away from us after scoring that third goal," said Meadows coach Peter Mikulak, who was without four from his first 11 due to ACT testing, and an injury to one of his best defenders, Steven Kay.
"Even in the wet and slippery conditions, Morton is a very skilled and technical group, and we struggled with that a bit, and they took advantage when they could."
The trio of Ivan Chavez, Joel Salmaron and Marcos Romo from Morton (6-1-1) each took turns extending Meadows (2-7-0) in its own end, to slowly, but surely break down it down in its own end after holding down the high powered attack for nearly a half hour.
Up until, and after Romo was left alone to head past keeper Carter Gibson, Meadows would expose a quick, but small Morton backline. Josh Galvin, Declan Delaney and Josh Koutas made a series of impressive runs and worked with and without the ball to create a handful of opportunites within the area.
"Declan had another good game for us today, but Galvin, in particular, was very strong on the outside today on both sides of the ball along the outside," said Mikulak.
Delaney's driving freekick would pick up more speed on the wet turf and cause Morton keeper Kenny Kulzinski to stay alert and low to the turf to save the shot from the senior at 29 minutes. Moments before Romo doubled the lead, Liam Brady and Chris Sanchez worked a nice 1-2 combination in close, but Meadows pair was unable to get a shot on frame.
Eight minutes after the break, Alonso Torres finished at end of a terrific-looking counter in which both Chavez and Salmaron would help initiate, then three minutes later, Romo and Salmaron put a dagger in the hopes of any kind of comeback after Gibson initially stopped a short-range blast from Torres.
Giovanni Guerrero and Galvin got together and came this close to ending Kulzinski's shutout bid, but Galvin's strike from in close went over the bar.
"We didn't give in, even when it got to be 3-0, and although that was a tough goal to give up, we still worked hard, despite missing a few guys today," said Galvin.