Ryan Uhl knew exactly what was at stake.
If the McHenry senior defender scored, the top-seeded Warriors would be Class 3A Crystal Lake South boys soccer regional champions.
Uhl got the job done.
He blasted a shot past Crystal Lake South senior goalkeeper Gus Alvarez which gave the Warriors a 3-1 advantage in the shootout and a 1-0 win over the third-seeded Gators to claim the regional championship Saturday in Crystal Lake.
"I just calmed myself down and saw that their goalie was leaning left," said Uhl. "I guessed right and it was a huge goal and a huge win for us."
The Gators end their season at 9-11-2 while McHenry (12-8-3) advances to the Huntley sectional and will play DeKalb Wednesday at 7 p.m. DeKalb defeated Huntley 1-0 Saturday in the DeKalb regional final.
In the shootout, Jake Canfield scored the lone goal for the Gators, while along with Uhl, Mike Lawrence and Evan Hying tallied goals for the Warriors.
Senior Frankie Valle made 2 saves in the shootout for McHenry on shots by Gary Sexson and Dan Massat.
"It is nice to have a senior goalie in there in the shootout," said McHenry coach Tony Caruso. "He isn't overwhelmed by the situation. He stayed calm and made key saves."
Crystal Lake South coach Brian Allen praised his Gators.
"When you get to a shootout it is a flip of the coin," said Allen. "People don't realize the magnitude of a shootout. Give Frankie credit. My hat's off to him. My kids gave a great effort. Congratulations to Tony and McHenry. They run a first-class program and deserve the regional plaque."
The Gator defense, spearheaded by senior four-year starter Bobby Mayer and David Tagatz, along with junior Andrew Perrine and sophomore Jake Canfield, was spectacular allowing only 3 shots on goals in 80 minutes of regulation play and 20 minutes of overtime. Alvarez made saves on all 3 shots.
"We have all played together for a long time since our days in the youth leagues," said Mayer. "We communicate well together and we all know our assignments. We knew who their scorers were and marked them the way we wanted to. We train hard in practice and we had a good effort today. It was great to get to the regional final but very tough to lose."
The Gators had two golden opportunities to score in regulation but shots by Austin Lamping and Mike Woeste sailed over the crossbar.