Dale Oppasser and Mike McKune fired top seed Cary-Grove (17-0-2) into the finals of the Class 3A Barrington boys soccer regional as the Trojans beat No. 4 McHenry 2-0 Tuesday night in the first of two matches at Barrington Community Park.
Next up for the Trojans will be the host Broncos (17-3-3), who defeated Dundee-Crown 2-0 to advance into the Friday final at 6 p.m.
"We've got some terrific leaders on the team this season, and you saw several of them come through for us tonight, and (really) I can't say enough about this team, and how proud I've been of their effort and work they all have put in thus far," said Cary-Grove coach Mark Olson, whose club drew 0-0 with Barrington in the first weekend of the 2012 campaign.
With a strong wind in their face, the Trojans were still able to start the match brightly, and looked to get forward during the opening exchanges. McHenry (11-7-1) senior Tony Quintero created the first chance of the match when he brought down a pass to his left foot before driving his shot wide of the frame and Trojans keeper Kevin Schenk, who would manage a handful of well-struck shots.
Kevin Wilde brought the best out of both goal scorers for Cary-Grove, the first coming when the junior played a brilliant ball down the left side to Oppasser, who would beat keeper Frankie Valle the other way with a nice touch on a shot that stayed on the floor and into the far inside netting.
"That first goal was big for us, and it gave us the momentum we needed from that point on," said Wilde.
Cary-Grove did well to manage its lead after the Oppasser goal, and just when it looked as if the Trojans were settling into their stride, the Warriors were in on Schenk when Quintero sent in a ball over the top to teammate Derrik Florklewicz. If not for a crisp and accurate tackle from Tyler Szydlo the McHenry senior could have been in a one-on-one situation with Schenk.
The Trojans' all-state candidate McKune would stun the Warriors at 40 minutes to send the FVC Valley Division champs into the break with a 2-goal advantage. Once again, it was Wilde who would start things with yet another inch-perfect ball down the left side -- in which McKune would collect then calmly go past a diving Valle, who would have no chance to stop the Cary-Grove captain from in close.
"It's always tough giving up the first goal in a big match like this, but when they got their second one right before the half, it really took a lot out of us," admitted McHenry head coach Tony Caruso.
"When you're playing from behind against a good team like Cary-Grove, it's always tough. But my guys played hard, and gave a lot of effort out there today, but we just lost to a better team."
The Trojans emerged from the break in a determined mood, and proceeded to monopolize possession.
McKune, Wilde, Oppasser and Brian O'Connor, whom Olson would praise afterward, were holding onto the ball as if it were on a string, and in doing so, a handful of opportunities would begin to flow.
Twelve minutes after the restart, a nifty heel flick from McKune nearly saw Wilde find the bar from in close, and at the hour mark, the same two put together a clever 1-2 combination which would lead to a corner.
Schenk would take on the role of spectator with a relatively easy second half of work, and it wasn't long before the Trojans' faithful were celebrating yet another victory, and a chance at a regional crown.
"We were very comfortable knocking the ball around, and using the width of this big field in the second half, but after all, that's the way we like to play, and we're pretty good at it as well," said Olson.