Quentin Low has been a big part of the Patriots' success, anchoring the defense as he has this season between the posts.
Low's efforts reached a higher level in the opening game of Tuesday's Stevenson Class 3A regional semifinal as third-seeded Stevenson shut out No. 13 seed Lake Zurich 1-0 in Lincolnshire.
The Patriots next play No. 11 seed Waukegan in regional final action at 11 a.m. Saturday in Lincolnshire. The Bulldogs (12-7-1) got past No. 6 Hersey 2-1 in Tuesday's second semifinal.
Low posted his 13th shutout for Stevenson (15-3-1) and his fourth straight clean sheet by making 7 stops against Lake Zurich (6-10-4). He shared the credit with his back-line defenders, including Ross Comitor, Michael Dobin, Alex Smith and Justin Johnson.
"It can't be all the goalkeeper because the line of the back four does a lot," Low said. "I really can't do it without them. We're all friends and we're a tight unit. When it comes to game time, we have to do what we have to do for a clean sheet."
Stevenson lost to Lake Zurich 2-0 two weeks ago and wanted to make up for that loss.
"Of course, letting up 2 goals before is a mental thing," Low said. "Obviously, we played the worst game of the season against (Lake Zurich). We knew it was a do-or-die situation coming into the game."
Ceasar Navarro scored the Patriots' goal in the 23rd minute off a deflected loose ball.
Stevenson has lost only three times, and one of them was at the Bears' expense.
"We lost one of our games to our first-round opponent," Stevenson coach Mark Schartner said. "It changes the dynamics of the psychology of that first game. It's all about playing well, and we didn't play well in that first game. We did play better in this one.
"Under the weather conditions, the wind had a lot to do with the scoring opportunities. We did create a lot more chances against the wind in the first half."
Lake Zurich had a quality season, but ultimately had a few too many games end up on the wrong side of a 1-goal margin.
"We played hard and had some quality chances," Lake Zurich coach Michael Schmitz said. "I thought it was a game that could've gone either way."
Bears midfielder John Repplinger knew his teammates gave it their best shot.
"We had our chances to score, but we couldn't finish them," Repplinger said, "We just wanted to battle hard out there.
"We knew that (Stevenson) wanted to come back and get us. We beat them on their senior night. We knew that they would play better after that loss. Stevenson is a good team."