Metea Valley shuts down Marmion
Pat Regal more than made the most of his opportunities Tuesday night in Aurora.
The Metea Valley senior scored the first goals of his varsity career to complement an early Nate Donovan score, and the Mustangs ended the Marmion boys soccer season with a 3-0 victory at their own Class 3A regional.
Seventh-seeded Metea Valley (10-7-3) advances to the championship match Saturday evening to face top-seeded Naperville Central, which defeated West Chicago 3-1 in the opener of the postseason doubleheader.
Ninth-seeded Marmion had its season end at 13-8-2.
"I usually get assists, not goals," Regal said after scoring late in both the first and second halves on strikes that were both mishandled by the Marmion keeper. "(The goals) came at good time. I couldn't be any happier."
Regal was switched from his customary defensive back position to more of an attacking one in the midfield.
Any hope Marmion had of a last-minute reprieve ended when Regal blasted a free kick from 28 yards for the third Metea Valley score with eight-plus minutes remaining.
"Pat has always been great at free kicks," Metea Valley coach Josh Robinson said. "He hit some great strikes tonight. That (free kick) was a rocket."
Donovan gave Metea Valley all the offense it would need with the first legitimate scoring opportunity of the match.
The senior midfielder took advantage of a Marmion misplay deep in its own end, and the Cadets' keeper was defenseless against a blistering low runner Donovan fired from 15 yards away.
Eight-plus minutes in the match, Marmion could not counter the Mustangs' speed and athleticism.
"We weren't ready to play on this stage," Marmion coach Ricky Del Toro said. "It was boys against men out there. Against (Class) 3A schools, you're not going to beat anyone playing like that."
The carnage could have been far worse had Marmon sophomore keeper Matt Fletcher not made several brilliant saves, many from point-blank range.
"He is going to be an outstanding keeper," Del Toro said.
There was a pronounced differential in offensive opportunities between the squads.
But the best scoring chance for Marmion, midway though the second half, came to naught as Metea Valley keeper Tim Howard made a lunging save to deny a Marmion goal to the upper-left corner.
The only source of concern for Metea Valley lay in the health of one of its top players, captain Chris Freeman.
The senior left the contest with a left ankle injury late. Howard said after the game he would be good to go against Naperville Central (14-2-2) on Saturday.
"We're looking forward to Saturday," Robinson said. "We always look forward to playing local schools. A lot of the boys (on each team) know each other."
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