A 86th-minute strike from Keegan Kullby gave No. 5 seed Lake Forest a 2-1 victory over No. 4 Hersey on Saturday and sent the Scouts into the Mundelein sectional.
The goal by Kullby ended the postseason march of the No. 4 Hersey, which was unable to summon any late dramatics in the championship of the Lake Forest regional.
"This was the one team in recent memory that I felt had all the components in place to make a serious run, and potentially a spot in the last four, but we just didn't play near the level we've been at of late," said Hersey coach Darren Llewellyn, whose club fell to 14-4-3 after its loss in the regional final at the Scouts home park.
"We had spells when we played pretty well, but we never found our rhythm," Llewellyn said.
The Huskies fought bravely in the first half as they felt the fury of a strong, gusty wind in their faces. In the eighth minute, the Huskies stunned the home side on John Cappuccitti's 20th goal of the season.
After the all-state forward dispossessed a Scouts defender, the Huskies' captain quickly broke free of his mark, and then another defender to gain enough space to unleash a 25-yard missile just under the bar and out of reach for keeper Jack Sentell.
"You saw what (Cappuccitti) was capable of with that first goal of the game, but after that, I felt the real story of this game was the excellent job of defending from Hunter Moore, who kept him under wraps following that early goal," said Scouts coach Rob Parry, who takes his club (13-6-1) into the sectionals to meet Buffalo Grove at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.
"Hunter's work helped us keep their attack from getting up and going, and after we got back even, I felt we had most of the run of play afterward to keep ourselves still alive in the tournament."
Lake Forest was without all-state midfielder John Moderwell, who was sitting out after collecting two yellow cards during the Scouts' shootout win over Lake Zurich earlier in the week.
However, cutting-edge play from Moderwell's younger brother Matt, along with Kulby, both sophomores, allowed the attack to run smooth and with enough pace to keep the Huskies from finding their game.
The Scouts drew even in the 37th minute off a nicely run combination orchestrated through Jack Duffy. He found John O'Connor with a quick pass, and the junior did the rest with a cool, calm and deadly finish past Huskies keeper Cristian Carranza three minutes from intermission.
"We would have liked to keep the score at 1-0 heading into the break, so that was a tough one to give up," Llewellyn said.
The Huskies coach tried a new look to inspire his attack for the second half, moving Tim Griffin inside to more of an attacking midfield position. Llewellyn also shifted Michael Kaczor to Griffins' spot on the outside, hoping to use the one-on-one individual skill of Kaczor to help break down the Scouts on his side.
At 51 minutes, Llewellyn went to just three in the back, and three up top, after pushing Charlie Davenport forward to join Cappuccitti and Connor Reynolds.
But the Scouts managed to keep their opponent far enough away from Sentell. Lake Forest's keeper wasn't called upon to save any real serious danger until he brought down Cappuccitti's 40-yard wind-aided free kick at 64 minutes.
Hersey had an opportunity to strike the game-winner in the closing moments of regulation. But the Huskies' hopes were dashed when Henry Levy cleared a sure goal off the line following Alex Mueller's driving header off a Cappuccitti corner that found his teammate perfectly.
"That obviously saved us at the moment," said Parry of the Levy 80-minute save and eventual game-winner. "It was so big, but we responded almost right away in overtime, which seemed to put them on their heels afterward."
O'Connor once again was at the heart of all the trouble for the Huskies.
His well-struck shot at Carranza was initially saved, but in the process, it spilled into the 6-yard box where the opportunistic young midfielder followed by slotting into the back of the net.
"We tried a lot of things to get our attack up and running, but nothing seemed to work today," Llewellyn said. "And if you're not on the top of your game at this time of the season, this is how your year can end."