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updated: 10/30/2013 11:08 PM

Vernon Hills breaks more new ground

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By Rusty Silber
Daily Herald Correspondent

History was made again for Vernon Hills' boys soccer team, as its ride in the postseason continued.

The Cougars won their first sectional semifinal in school history with a 1-0 shutout of Marian Central at Grayslake North on Wednesday.

Ilya Kravtsev scored the lone goal, his ninth of the season, in the eighth minute off an assist from Caleb Shaw.

"I just got the ball, turned and saw the goalie," Kravtsev said. "I saw the goal, the opening and scored."

The victory earned Vernon Hills (12-5-2) a berth in Saturday's 11 a.m. Class 2A sectional final against Antioch, which edged Grayslake Central 3-2 in the second semifinal at Grayslake North. With its regional final win over Chicago Senn last Friday, Vernon Hills set the school record for wins in a season.

Kravtsev joined the Cougars a year ago after moving from Russia. He played on the JV last year and started on the varsity this year as a senior. He has scored in the last four games for the Cougars.

"This is the best team that I've been a part of," Kravtsev said. "We changed our style and we're playing much better."

Marian Central (12-6-1) never could recover from its early deficit.

"That's been the key for our team in the last four games," Vernon Hills coach Mike McCaulou said of his team getting on the scoreboard early. "We had other chances in the first half to solidify (the lead). Give credit to Marian Central. They had a great season. They made it difficult for us. We had to defend well. They were pressing us in the last 20-25 minutes."

Cougars keeper Jonathan Ramirez notched his fourth clean sheet this season, as he made 3 stops. He had help in front of him from defenders Ryan Bryson, Ricardo Ceja, Brad Burrows and Nick Bryson.

Marian Central had more of a defensive approach.

"We played our game plan," Hurricanes coach Jim Colvin said. "We wanted to sit in and hold our line. (Vernon Hills) got their one goal on a big play. It was a defensive breakdown. We missed a few opportunities on our end or else the game could have been in our favor."

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