John Pothast helped No. 3 seed Lake Zurich get off to a flying start, and the host Bears swiftly pulled away from first-round opponent McHenry in a comfortable 3-0 victory in the second of two regional semifinal matches on a dreadful night for boys soccer Wednesday.
Caleb Pothast's lethal left-footed blast handcuffed Warriors keeper Frank Valle just four minutes into the contest, and the force behind the 25-yarder proved too much for the sophomore to handle. The ball escaped his grasp, allowing John Pothast to put away the rebound.
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Five minutes later, Justin Marais unloaded a shot from 25 yards which bounded off the underside of the crossbar and found its way into the back of the net to put the No. 2 Warriors (14-6-2) on their heels despite having the strong wind at their back.
"To go out and put two into the net in the first 10 minutes, and with the wind in our faces, was exactly what we wanted to do, and probably not what McHenry wanted to see happen," said senior John Pothast, who along with his midfield mates were nearly impossible to stop in the first quarter hour as the Bears (11-5-5) poured into their opponents with ease.
"The game always looks easy when you get out to an early lead, but aside from those two quick goals, we did a terrific job of keeping the ball, and knocking it around despite the terrible playing conditions," said Lake Zurich coach Mike Schmitz, whose side will face No. 1 Cary-Grove on Saturday evening in the regional final.
Right from the start, the great energy and pace provided by LZ forwards Marais and Brenden Seeger was too much for the Warriors' defense to handle. They showed quality ball control and the consistent pressure helped keep McHenry in its own end for most of the first half.
"We played quick and fast tonight, and didn't let the weather effect how we wanted to play when we came out tonight," said John Pothast, who clipped the bar at the quarter hour with another fiece drive from just outside the box. "Going up 2 goals to none was big for us, but getting that third goal before the half had to be heartbreaking for them."
Jeff Kreutz, who had been just a spectator for the Bears in goal for 15-plus minutes, made his first save of the night when an Arturo Diaz corner was sent back into the 6-yard box by another McHenry player. That forced Kreutz to pull the looping ball out of the air. Kreutz, a senior, later swallowed up another two or three long-range free kicks sent in.
A clever Jorge Berumdez nearly chipped Valle when he ventured far off his line to challenge a ball into the area.
Then, just before intermission, a poorly played ball in the Warrriors' end resulted in Berumdez collecting it, touching once to gain more space and firing low and past Valle.
With the wind growing ever more fierce after the break, the Bears enjoyed the run of play for the entire second half, rarely allowing McHenry passage into LZ's end of the field. And when the Warriors did make it into that half, the Bears' backline trio of Carlo Fava, Kyle Callender and Greg Geimer limited damage and controlled the action.