It's been a house of horrors this week for the higher seeds at the Carmel regional, and on Friday night the lowest seed of the bunch lifted the championship trophy.
The host school, the No. 14 seed Carmel Catholic (12-7-3), engineered its second upset of the week with nearly perfect spot-kick success, outscoring No. 11 Fremd 4-3 in shootout to record a 1-0 victory and advance into next week's Mundelein sectional, where it will meet No. 15 Buffalo Grove at 6:30 Tuesday in a semifinal matchup.
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Ryan McKernan drove in his fifth-round attempt to start a mad celebration that saw the Corsairs faithful pour onto the pitch at Baker Field, and stay long after Ray Krawzak's club took possession of the regional hardware.
"Our defense really hung in there tonight, especially in the second half when Fremd was all over us, and I just cannot say enough about our freshman keeper, Jacob Spheeris," said Krawzak. "He made a couple of big saves in the second half to keep us in it, and later when he stopped that third-round PK to allow us to go up 3-1 at the time.
"It feels great to win tonight, and I am really happy for the guys. Who would have thought two teams that began this tournament with play-in games (Buffalo Grove is the other) are still alive and playing each other next week in Mundelein?"
The hosts enjoyed the run of play in the first 20 minutes, but the Vikings (8-8-6) slowly got themselves back into things. Fremd's success carried over after intermission, when strong, gusty winds were now at the back of the visitors.
The Vikings created several deep long throws and dead-balls chances with its direct style of play, targeting forward Zach Schoffstall with quality service out of the back to help put the Corsairs under pressure the entire second half.
"That's not the way we wanted to play tonight, but the wind, and the pressure (from) Fremd didn't allow us to do much of anything in that second half," said Krawzak.
Spheeris was at his best on two occasions, the first coming when the freshman turned a Nathan Dolan strike over the bar at 50 minutes. The second was more timely, and dramatic, in the 76th minute.
After an initial save on a long freekick from Schoffstall, the Corsairs rookie keeper stopped Tomas Peleckas in close to all but ensure overtime would be played.
"We created several good chances in that second half, but you've got to finish in this game, and that, in a nutshell, is why our season is over," said Fremd coach Steve Keller.
Carmel had the wind in the first of two 10-minute extra sessions, and it was howling throughout the period.
Schoffstall had a go on frame in the 95th minute, as did Timmy Karich, who drove his low left-footer on target, but at Fremd keeper Dylan Fisher.
Once in shoot-out, the Corsairs went up 3-1 on conversions from Karich, Evan Potter and Adam Cloe.
The Vikings drew even at 3-3 as Ben Borst and Schoffstall finished, in between a save by Fisher, to set-up the heroics from McKernan.