It will be an all-Mid-Suburban League boys soccer regional final Friday night in Palatine.
First-half goals from Tyler Curylo and Dan Cushing and a dose of trademark soccer from the host Pirates (9-7-4) led to a 3-0 victory over No. 7 Mundelein on Tuesday night on the turf at Chic Anderson Stadium in Palatine.
Next up for the No. 9 Pirates will be No. 15 Buffalo Grove, which stunned No. 2 Warren 1-0 earlier in the evening.
"It's not easy going down 2 goals and chasing a lead, especially at this time of the year, and against a team like ours which plays so direct and puts pressure on an opponent for 80 minutes," said Palatine keeper Kyle Leber, who thanked his backline for a job well done, and both Curylo and Cushing for their wonderful work in the attacking third.
"Getting that first goal was big for us," said Curylo, "because it allowed us to play our game, create plenty of long throws from Gavin (Falotico) and Kevin Burke and dead-ball opportunities, which we knew would give (Mundelein) some trouble."
Palatine started as if it meant to win it inside 10 minutes as the Pirates put the Mustangs under pressure with a trio of long throws and a pair of corners. Just moments after Curylo was brought on by coach Willie Filian, he immediately made his mark.
The junior found himself alone near the spot when he thumped a header off an inward swinging corner from Rafael Esquivel to get the chilled Pirates faithful up and out their seats.
The Mustangs responded right off the whistle with Mason Homsey driving a wicked 20-yard blast off the bar as the Pirates managed to escape without any damage.
Just a couple of minutes later, Mundelein wasn't as fortunate. That's when Kyle Clancy's nearly perfect pass against the run of play pulled the Mustangs' defense out of shape, which allowed Cushing to run onto a loose ball inside the six, where his nifty redirected shot went high into the back of the net.
"The last thing we wanted to do was concede the first, then second goal, and all so quickly," said Mundelein coach Ernie Billittier.
The Mustangs did find a spark despite the 2-0 deficit, and with some fine work from Pepe Gonzalez, Armando Gomez, Edson Suaste, Chuy Alba and Homsey, the visitors got themselves back into the game during the final quarter-hour of the first half.
Leber punched a well-aimed free kick from Suaste out of his box just before the break. Suaste again got himself free during the early stages of the second period to force Leber off his line to make another stop.
But his mates in front of him, especially Burke, Liam Obernesser and Evan Braun, were air-tight for most of the night, and when Curylo made it 3-0 in the 54th minute, it was all but over.
"This group of seniors (as sophomores) finished their season way below .500, then were at .500 last year, and came back to have a terrific final year for me and the program," said Billittier. "They made my first year as head coach three years ago a real joy. They have meant a lot to this program, and have put so much into this team, and I will miss all of them."
Palatine, meanwhile, is relishing the idea of playing for a regional title at home.
"We probably had our best start of the season in that first 15-20 minutes tonight, and really set the tone for the game and got the momentum right away, then just carried it through until the end," said Curylo.
Palatine went 0-1-1 against Buffalo Grove in the regular season, drawing 0-0 in early September and falling 2-1 last week in an MSL crossover.