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updated: 10/25/2013 10:25 PM

St. Charles East surges past Rolling Meadows

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It's not something St. Charles East boys soccer coach Paul Jennison hopes to become habit forming.

For the second consecutive postseason game, the top-seeded Saints (19-1-4) entered halftime in a draw -- this time a 2-2 deadlock with Rolling Meadows Friday night at Norris Stadium.

And for the second straight time, the Saints enjoyed a second-half surge, scoring 4 unanswered goals over the final 21-plus minutes to earn a 6-2 victory over the eighth-seeded Mustangs (9-6-1) in the Class 3A regional championship clash in St. Charles.

The Saints advance to Tuesday night's Schaumburg sectional semifinals against the Glenbard North-Wheaton North winner.

After the game, Jennison sounded a word of warning to his team.

"These guys have got to learn that putting a full game together is masterfully important now," said the coach, who guided the Saints to their second straight regional crown. "There are no re-dos.

"This is twice this season that we've really had to bring a game out from behind at halftime. It's nice to have it in your back pocket but you don't want to play that card all the time."

Junior forward Zach Manibog capitalized on a Rolling Meadows defensive miscue to put the Saints on top to stay at 3-2 with 21:12 remaining in the second half.

"We played some sloppy balls in the back in the second half and they're fast up top," said Rolling Meadows coach Peter Mikulak.

Less than two minutes later, senior defender Jacob Sterling notched an all-important insurance goal on a picture-perfect sliding shot off a header feed from junior Tyler Robbins.

Manibog, whose first goal of the game upped the Saints' lead to 2-0 midway through the opening half, beat a Mustangs defender to the ball to complete his first hat trick of the season and make it 5-2 with 6:28 remaining.

"It felt really good, especially in an important game like this," Manibog said of his 3-goal effort. "This was a crazy game but it was a lot of fun."

Jeff Chitwood, 1 of 11 seniors playing in their final home contest, netted the game's final goal with 3:09 left before a joyous crowd.

"Our crowd was spectacular and gave us a big lift," said Jennison. "We've been preaching about this to the seniors, telling them to think about what this could be -- that if this is going to be the last game on this field to leave a legacy."

Not before Rolling Meadows gave the home team a scare with a pair of goals within a minute apart -- the first off a turn-around blast from Kou Glaser and the tying tally coming on a 50-yard free kick from Enrique Avellaneda with 14:30 left in the first half.

"When Kou put that first one in, it did pick us up," said Mikulak. "By the time Enrique scored the second one on the free kick, I think we all believed that we were right back in it anyway. But we couldn't carry that over into the second half.

"It seemed like we were playing a lot of defense (in the second half) and were a step or two late to the ball," added Mikulak, whose team suffered its most lopsided loss of the season. "I think they wore us down a bit."

The Saints also may have learned a valuable lesson.

"If we want to continue this journey, we can't take plays off," said Jennison. "You can't give teams the chance to come back."

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