St. Edward boys soccer coach Tim Brieger feared last week that his Green Wave would come into Tuesday's Class 1A soccer regional semifinal a bit lackadaisical after already beating No. 4 seed Christian Liberty Academy earlier this season by 2 goals.
Although top-seeded St. Edward vindicated Brieger's fears, somehow the Wave managed to slide by the Chargers in a 2-0 win at Greg True Field in Elgin to advance to Saturday's regional final. St. Edward will await the winner of Wednesday's semifinal between No. 2 seed Aurora Central Catholic and No. 3 Elgin Academy.
St. Edward (9-10-2) only accounted for half of the scoring Tuesday, as an own goal by Christian Liberty (2-16-1) 50 seconds into the match was the virtual decider. Forward Joe French delivered the de facto game-winner off an Alex Semler throw-in from the left baseline in the 22nd minute.
All in all, it prompted Brieger to stress to his team that if it comes out on Saturday the way it did on Tuesday, a repeat regional championship won't happen.
"I just kind of laid into them a little on the sideline saying, 'guys, this is going to sound weird. I'm glad we won,' " said Brieger. ' "And you played great. And you played good enough to win. We're doing just enough to win and if you do this on Saturday whether it's Elgin Academy or Aurora Central Catholic, whichever team you play, they're coming out for a regional title. And if we do just enough to win, something could go wrong and we're not going to win.'"
It was evident on four missed opportunities in the second half, where during one sequence a shot was deflected by Christian Liberty goalie Brendan Brosnan (9 saves) and went right back to another St. Edward player, who shot and missed again. St. Edward outshot CLA 20-9 and missed three golden opportunities to score in the first half as well.
"I think we really just took this game pretty lightly because we beat them a few weeks ago and we were just expecting to come out pretty easily but they came out a lot stronger this time around and we really weren't ready for it," French said. "It was a pretty sloppy game but I think we're going to pick it up."
French, who missed the first touch on the throw from Semler, saw two defenders racing toward him and put a foot on it to the right far post, which sailed to the bottom right corner for the Wave's only score. St. Edward was able to play some long balls to the middle of the field but in the end, when it did develop chances, the boot was either wide or long and that has to change, according to Brieger.
"(One player) missed the one on the doorstep and at halftime he said, 'oh, coach, I'll get another one,' " said Brieger. "And it's like that's the problem, you're expecting it to get another one but if another one doesn't come ... ugh."
The own goal spoiled things right off the bat for Jed Bennett's group, who resorted to forcing the issue and 40-plus-yard kicks never opened many chances.
"It changed everything for us," Bennett said. "Once you get down early, it's hard to make good decisions and you try and tend to -- as a high-school player -- go for it all. It's a longshot and sometimes it works and we, finally in the last 15 minutes, possessed a little bit and that's where our opportunities came from.
"If we could have done that the whole first half instead of the last 15 it would have been different."
Cristo Rey St. Martin 3, Harvest Christian 0: Noah Fox had 3 saves in goal for Harvest Christian (10-7), which saw its season come to an end at the Class 1A Genoa-Kingston regional.