Slowly, the field began to tilt Wheaton Warrenville South's way in Tuesday's Class 3A Naperville North regional semifinal.
After an even first half the Tigers began to take control in the second until a 70th-minute goal by Javier Rojas gave WW South a 1-0 victory over a young Marmion team.
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"It was a little frustrating," said Tigers senior Max Carey. "Marmion played well the entire game. But I think in the second half we were really pressing them, and it was great to get that goal."
"We were knocking on the door," Tigers coach Guy Callipari said. "You knew going in that they were going to be well-disciplined and well-organized and have numbers behind the ball. It was a matter of can you find the timing, can you get the right person on the service and the right run, and we made that happen at the end.
"It's a little unfortunate that we had a few sitters that might have taken the pressure off us early on. It made us work a little bit harder, and I kind of sensed a little bit that they were not only playing against Marmion but playing against the clock a little bit. A little frustration was starting to set in. And then you have to be aware of the counter as the game goes on as well. You get susceptible as you start pushing numbers forward. But we got the one we needed."
Carey assisted on Rojas' goal, sending a long ball down the middle of the field to Rojas as he was running toward the net.
"They've been playing a high line and I knew I could play a through ball and get a guy behind," Carey said. "Javy just made a great run. I gave him the ball and he finished it."
"I saw (the goalkeeper) on the left and I decided to shoot it right, and it worked pretty well," Rojas added.
The sixth-seeded Tigers (12-8-2) advance to Saturday's noon regional final against the host Huskies. The Huskies won the teams' DuPage Valley Conference match this season 4-1.
The loss ended a good season for coach Ricky Del Toro and his Cadets, who finished 14-7-2.
"I've got to look at all this in an optimistic way," said Del Toro, who started just three seniors. "We've fallen short, 1-0 short of advancing to the next round, but we've got to be optimistic. We've got to look forward to next year. I told the boys, especially the young ones, we're going to be working hard in the off-season. ... We want to show that we have some pretty good soccer at Marmion, and we want to show that we're going to compete for state titles sooner rather than later."
The Tigers outshot No. 10 Marmion 9-1 in the second half.
"The second half I thought we lost the midfield a lot," Del Toro said. "We were losing the ball way too much. I thought they had a lot of possession. I think their skill overpowered us in the midfield."