Brian Werchek scored a pair of goals and Joey Savino added another in leading Lakes to a 3-1 victory over host Grant in a North Suburban Prairie Division boys soccer matchup Monday night in Fox Lake.
The outcome netted Eagles the Prairie title and earned them a berth in Thursday night's conference championship game. Lakes (9-6-2, 5-0-1) will host Lake Division champion Lake Forest (11-5-1, 5-1) at 6:15 p.m. Thursday in Lake Villa.
Lake Forest got past Warren 3-2 to clinch the Lake title Monday.
The Eagles and Scouts met for the NSC title on the same field two years ago. Lake Forest got a late goal to win that one 3-2 and earn its first NSC championship in 22 years.
"It's nice to have the opportunity to play in the championship game," Lakes coach Kevin Kullby said. "You think that you can get there every year, but this is just the third time for us."
Lakes is trying to become the first boys soccer team from the Prairie Division to top its Lake foe in the conference title matchup.
"It can happen if we can hold down the fort," Kullby said. "There are times this year that we played some great defense, and times that we had some great offense. We need both for this next game. Lake Forest (unbeaten in its last six games) is playing very well lately. They are playing their best soccer all year."
On Monday, Lakes jumped in front with a couple of first-half goals. The Eagles weren't satisfied with it, though, especially because they knew a draw would have kept them from earning a spot in the title game.
"In some ways, you come into the game confident that you can prevail," Kullby said. "You play the game and it looks like it's comfortable (with a 2-0 lead). You give up a penalty shot and it gives (Grant) new life. It was the worst lead you can have. (Grant) did have some life and some chances out there. But we did have three nice goals, and we needed that third goal."
Werchek scored the opening goal unassisted for Lakes in the 24th minute and followed with another in the 39th minute. Richard Galat assisted on the second goal.
Werchek has 11 goals this season. Other consistently in the mix include Jon Borzick, Galat and Joey Savino.
"The team is starting to come together piece by piece," Werchek said. "We're have the makings of a great season, and we want to finish it. Something we really focus on is team chemistry. We know where we are and where we want the ball every time around the field."
Grant (4-12-2, 1-5) got its goal on a penalty kick from Omar Valedez in the 72nd minute, making it 2-1 in favor of Lakes.
Savino added a Lakes insurance goal on a rebound in the 76th minute.
"That's the story of the season -- to keep it real close, and unfortunately be on the short end of the stick, especially in the majority of these division game," Grant coach Bryan Mark said. "(Lakes) was a very good team, they have a couple of good players that can change the game. I thought we kept our composure out there. We possessed the ball very well, but we didn't do much with it. That's been our problem -- not to get anything out of it."