For the second time in as many games, Drew Brauner rode in from out of nowhere to save the day for Buffalo Grove.
The sophomore struck his second game-winner of the week, stunning Class 3A regional host Palatine 2-1 to help the Bison move on to Tuesday's sectional semifinal at Mundelein. They'll meet No. 14 Carmel, which defeated Fremd in shootout late Friday night in Mundelein.
"I guess it didn't matter what your seed was in this regional," said thrilled Buffalo Grove coach Rick Carlson, who seemed to jump 10 feet off the ground after Brauner ran onto a superb early ball from Hans Haller before unleashing a nasty low drive past keeper Kyle Leber, who along with fellow Pirates captain Kyle Clancy, saw their brilliant prep careers come to an end inside Chic Anderson Stadium.
"I felt so confident when I was in the position to score, and it felt real good after the ball left my foot," said Brauner, whose goal in the 59th minute led to a 1-0 upset of No. 2 Warren last Tuesday in a regional opener.
The No. 15 Bison (7-8-6) went ahead in the 11th minute despite spending most of the early exchanges defending one long throw after another and several corners when Pat Tucharski scored on BG's their first chance of the game.
The Pirates hounded the visitors from that point on, forcing the backline of the Bison to defend with all its might until the break. Buffalo Grove brought nine back in its end to challenge the wind-aided throws of Gavin Falotico and Kevin Burke, as well as some creative play by Sergio Hernandez, Jahir Flores and Rafael Esquivel.
"In the end, that was our downfall tonight," said Palatine coach Willie Filian. "We had all of those dead-ball opportunities, but there wasn't any bite to them. And to that point, Buffalo Grove defended well during most of the chances and we didn't take advantage as we normally do."
Flores put a shot on goal in the 38th minute with a nasty strike, and just after intermission, Bison keeper Ricardo Valencia made a pair of wonderful saves to keep the Pirates chasing the lead at the hour mark.
Another long throw from Falotico at the near flag saw a short clearing attempt fall to Liam Obernesser, and the sophomore's one-timer from the left side exploded inside the far post to tie it up in the 66th minute.
"When you concede so many long throws, sooner or later it's going to catch-up to you," said Carlson. "But credit their kid for a great goal to get them even."
Allan Santiaguillo, Ryan Drum, Daniel Ramirez and Haller tightened things up along the back after the Palatine goal, and when Haller put his teammate through, it took just a few moments for the sophomore to strike it rich.
"We knew what to expect from Palatine tonight, and I thought our backline, and the entire team for that matter, did a very good job of defending, as did Ricardo, who was there when we really needed him tonight," said Santiaguillo, a senior.
"Credit Rick and his guys for playing a real solid game tonight. They defended well, especially No. 3 (Santiaguillo) while using their size and strength back there to keep us under wraps, and we wish them the best of luck next week at Mundelein," said Filian.
The Bison will enter that sectional with a four-game win streak.