Give the Lake Park boys soccer team a seam or a turnover in the midfield and the Lancers more often than not will make you pay for it.
Forward Oliver Horgan, especially. The speedy junior scored 2 goals in the first 22 minutes on free balls Lake Park capitalized on in the open field during No. 2 seed Lake Park's 5-1 Class 3A Conant regional semifinal win over No. 14 Bartlett Tuesday night in Hoffman Estates.
Wisconsin-bound midfielder Mike Catalano also scored 2 unassisted goals and Joe Keane booted home a penalty kick to put the Lancers (17-2-3), who scored the game's first 5 goals, in Saturday's regional final against No. 10 seed Wheaton Warrenville South at 5 p.m.
Bartlett coach Ben Beary knew his 4-4-2 formation couldn't make any mistakes against one of the top teams in the Schaumburg sectional bracket and for Lancers' coach Anthony Passi, getting that first goal was crucial.
"So much was coming out of the midfield we got the ball behind the defense finding Oliver how many times?" said Passi. "They played a bit of a trap. We must have been offsides six or seven times all night. How many times if we just gave a little look, waited a little bit, would we have gotten ourselves in that box a dozen more times tonight?"
Lake Park outshot Bartlett 15 -4 and hit the crossbar on one occasion. The Lancers played their outside-mids a little further back and when they were able to get behind the defense, they were able to get the ball wide. Bartlett depended on the deep pass, which ultimately proved costly.
Horgan scored on a 2-on-1 situation when he received a pass from midfielder Kevin Coria in the 9th minute. His second goal came on breakaway after he snatched a free ball in the center of the field.
"Our coaches said to put pressure (on Bartlett's backs) and our midfielders were great and they just gave me the ball so I just finished it," Horgan said. "We just moved the ball around and found a gap and played the ball through. We have fast forwards so we can get to that ball."
Catalano effortlessly booted a loose ball from 35 yards out with 5 minutes left in the first half and also scored on a loose ball in front of the net in the 67th minute.
The Hawks (5-13-4), who had been playing better at the end of the season, found themselves in a hole early and put themselves in a greater hole when they fell a man short on a red card just before the half. Bartlett did show muster when Igor Zwada scored on a penalty kick with 9:13 remaining.
"I'm proud of the way we ended, down a man, they're playing their starters the whole second half, we came out 1-1 in the second half," Beary said. "We were able to possess for a few stretches there early so we were feeling pretty good and we knew we couldn't make defensive mistakes against this team. The first two goals clearly were defensive mistakes. It happens and a good team like Lake Park is going to capitalize on that every time."