An outburst of 3 goals within five minutes ignited a 6-goal second-half explosion to help send a Maine West senior night audience home on a high note.
The Warriors rocked visiting St. Patrick 7-1 in their boys soccer regular-season finale on Wednesday night in Des Plaines.
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Seniors Alex and Nelson Herrera struck twice for a pair of goals while Miguel Lopez had a hand in two and scored one of his own to send coach Alan Matan's club into the state playoffs on a positive note with a decisive nonconference victory.
"Coach (Eliades) Hernandez wasn't sure way back in the off-season who was going to come play for us, but when we found who was coming back and making a commitment to the program, we were very pleased and thrilled to see so many back with us," Matan said. "It's been a wonderful soccer season thus far, and all of us are looking forward to the start of the tournament."
The Warriors (14-4-2) will open with Niles West next Tuesday. Maine West suffered an early-season 1-0 defeat to their Central Suburban League rival.
"I think everyone would like to have that one back," Matan said. "And I really believe having the opportunity to play (them) again will help relieve some of the usual case of nerves every team has in its regional opener."
West seemed out of sync in the first period. Its trademark possession game lacked the snap it usually exhibits.
While the Warriors did create some quality chances, most were wasted. That kept the Shamrocks (6-13-1) in the match during the opening 40 minutes of play.
The lone goal of the half came on an enterprising run by midfielder Alex Herrera. He raced past a trio of defenders before driving a well-placed shot past a diving Leo Rodriguez, who had little support in his own end most of the night.
"We were a little ragged in that first half, but we opened things up after the break to take control," said Warriors co-captain Jonathan Schmitz, who along with seven others seniors were recognized during a short presentation during intermission.
The Warriors awoke from their first-half malaise in spectacular fashion when all-state striker Nelson Herrera brought the home crowd to its feet just six minutes into the period.
Herrera chested down a ball from Alonso Guerrero with his back to the net. He then turned and collected the return pass from his teammate before almost effortlessly unloading a 35-yard dipping drive that exploded into the far corner.
Lopez made it 3-0 three minutes later before Alex Herrera added another one at 51 minutes. Nelson Herrera followed with his program-record 35th of the season goal a minute later.
An own goal and a late strike from Jesus Rivera ended the scoring for the Warriors, who conceded a St. Patrick goal in the closing seconds to end Gabriel Chacon's bid for the shutout.
"None of us knew what this team was going to be like after everything that went on last year," Schmitz said. "But there's great chemistry with everyone here, and we're all connected so well, and that's likely the biggest reason for our success thus far."