Whatever margin for error there is during the regular season, one mistake in postseason soccer can be all it takes to send a team home.
Aurora Central Catholic made two such miscues Wednesday afternoon at the Class 1A Genoa-Kingston sectional semifinals, and those two plays were the difference in the Cogs' 2-0 victory.
Both goals came in a 60-second span late in the first half. First, the Chargers were slow to react on a corner kick that resulted in Will Crozier's header, then perhaps still stung by the first goal Aurora Central was caught napping on a long pass that led to a breakaway for Juan Lechuga and a 2-0 lead.
"Nothing against Genoa but to a point I think we beat ourselves," Chargers coach Eric Cournaya said. "They are a good team, don't get me wrong, they have some good skill. They did what they needed to do. They handled the situation better than we did. They stepped up and took advantage of the opportunities they had and we didn't. We didn't play our best game."
Genoa (15-6-1) advances to play Stillman Valley for the sectional title on Saturday while Aurora Central Catholic's season ends at 8-12.
Even before Crozier broke through with the first goal with 11 minutes left in the first half, Genoa was controlling the action and getting almost every scoring opportunity.
"We always come out strong," Lechuga said. "We were controlling the first half and weren't getting anything in. We just kept on going and knew eventually something would go in."
Chargers keeper Andy Czerak made a couple saves as the Cogs kept the pressure on and got a corner kick from Robert Nay that found Crozier.
"We talked about yesterday our set plays this time of the year that's what's going to make the difference," Genoa coach Randy Tate said. "We knew that was going to be a big game-breaker."
Aurora Central pressed forward after the goal but the Cogs' Danny Hansen won control of the ball and sent a long ball up the field. Lechuga, who had several scoring chances throughout the game, raced after the ball, made sure to stay onside, got control and beat Czerak from point-blank range.
"On both their goals we made two mental mistakes," Cournaya said. "We didn't challenge on the header and they put it past our keeper. The second one we kind of fell asleep and were watching and they beat our keeper on basically a breakaway goal."
Cournaya made an adjustment at halftime and had his midfielders and forwards apply more pressure. The result was fewer scoring opportunities for the Cogs, though they still kept possession near the Chargers' end a majority of the time.
David Petesch shot wide early in the second half, Christian Lewis forced one of the few saves Andrew Caldwell had to make at the 16-minute mark, but overall there wasn't much of a chance for the Chargers to cut into the 2-0 deficit.
Aurora Central graduates six seniors from its 14-man roster.
"We had an up-and-down season," Cournaya said. "In the end I'm proud of the team. We stepped up toward the last part of the season and started playing some really good soccer. Unfortunately we didn't see that good soccer we played in the regionals today. But I'm still proud of these guys. They gave a great effort and didn't stop playing until the whistle blew. We held together and still played hard."