Burlington Central forward Alan Camarena did something no player on the field could do for the first 79 minutes of the Class 2A Sycamore boys soccer regional final Friday.
He scored a goal.
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It sounds elementary but for No. 1 seed Central, it was more than just a goal. Camarena's strike from 20 yards out with 55 seconds remaining gave the Rockets a stirring 1-0 win over No. 2 Kaneland, which not only avenged last year's regional title loss to the Knights, it gave Central its first regional title since 2010.
Central (21-2), which set a program record for wins in a season with the victory, gets home-field advantage against Freeport, winner of the Rochelle regional, at 5 p.m. on Rocket Hill Tuesday in a sectional semifinal.
Friday's winning play all started off a Knights' (9-6-4) corner kick just over a minute left. After the ball was deflected in the box, Paolo Sespene cleared the ball out of the Central zone which Jacob Schutta corralled near midfield and found Camarena racing toward the net. Camarena then one-timed across the box from right to left just inside of the far left post for his 19th goal of the season, which sent the Rockets on the sideline into complete bedlam.
"I was calling for the ball, I saw Schutta got it, I saw I was wide open and I called for it right away and we always practice one-timers in the air too, so I took the chance from Schutta," Camarena said. "It was one of the best shots I took this year, too. I actually thought it was going out at first. I just aimed and took the shot, I didn't even see the goalie."
Credit Schutta, who garnered the assist and made the heads up play on a night where all it took was one mistake or one turnover to make things happen.
"I saw the ball coming back across the box, I heard Alan call for the ball and I just hit it one-time as quick as I could to get him the ball and Alan made an excellent shot side post," said Schutta, who had a defender drawing on him.
Central could have settled matters in the first 40 minutes after it fired 10 shots into the wind. Central outshot Kaneland 18-4 overall and outpossesed the Knights, who never challenged goalie Brett Rau (2 saves). But as the game went on BC coach Mike Gecan started to worry a bit.
"I was getting flashbacks," he said. "I'll be on my death bed talking about this game. That was a pretty amazing goal to end the game on top of it, it was a super-quality, brilliant volley with a lot of bend and to do it with less than a minute left in the game, I mean c'mon."
Last year Kaneland won and it left Gecan unhappy. This season, it's Kaneland coach Scott Parillo with that feeling.
"I felt I was happy, but felt bad because I ended his season. This year, he's happy, but he feels a little bad because he's ended my season. You know, the jerk!" Knighs coach Scott Parillo said, jokingly of his good friend Gecan. "I'm kidding, I'm kidding. I hate that guy now. No. Forget it. We're no longer friends. You know, that's soccer. Who's going to make the first mistake? Unfortunately, it was us. That's things.
"It was us who made the first blunder. Gosh darnit. It was a great season, I've got some great seniors. This one hurts a little more because it's my son (Anthony Parillo), his final game.