Carmel Catholic's boys soccer team enjoyed an exceptional afternoon of attacking play in defeating long-time rival St. Viator 4-0 on Wednesday in Arlington Heights.
The win keeps East Suburban Catholic Conference title hopes alive for the Corsairs (12-2-2, 7-1-0) and ends the same hope for St. Viator (5-11-0, 4-1-2).
"We had to win out in order to take home a conference title, but Ray (Krawzak) has a very good team," said St. Viator coach Mike Taylor, who oversaw Krawzak's playing career when the Lions won a state title in 2003. "And when we didn't stick to our game plan, it was all but over for us because Carmel took full advantage of our mistakes."
"This was a big one for us today," said Krawzak. "After going through five minutes of jitters to start the game, we got ourselves back into the game with our possession and terrific work on the outside, which ended up leading to 3 of our 4 goals today."
St. Viator opened play on a bright, sunny fall day with a good work-rate, much of it led by Zaul Perez, Will and Jack Hartman as well as Michael Tangredi.
Tangredi went wide in the opening minute, and the Lions quartet created a pair of corners deep in the Corsairs' end. But after absorbing that early pressure, the visitors showed clear intent with some high pressure, equally matched with the same diligence at midfield to take back the run of play from the Lions.
"You could tell St. Viator had come to play, but after we finally settled in, we began to possess and create several chances," said Carmel's Rob Rao, who will play next fall at DePaul.
The Corsairs struck for the opener in the 21st minute when Rao (17 goals) finished his low shot from open space. The chance was created by Austin Ehren, who smartly allowed a Barnes cross to sail through his legs, fooling the Lions' defense into thinking it would be Ehren and not Rao who would attempt a shot from 18 yards.
Kyle Knauer, quiet in goal for Corsairs during these first 20 minutes, made a brilliant point-blank save on Will Hartman, then watched Jack Hartman's return shot from the rebound graze the bar.
"If we get even, who knows what happens? But we didn't, and when they scored just before the half, it really hurt us," Taylor said.
The Corsairs' second goal of the first half came from Carsten Murgas, who saw the play develop initially up the left side by Michael Handel.
"It turned out to be an easy chance for me after Handel gave (Henry Barnes) the ball, because his cross was sent right to me," said Murgas.
The 38th-minute goal sent the visitors into the intermission with more than enough confidence to carry over in the second period.
It soon became 3-0 when Matt Fix finished at the end of a nice run that allowed him time and space to cut inside before scoring against Lions keeper David Petrovich.
The Corsairs forced the Lions to chase 4 goals after a turnover in the St. Viator end allowed Ehren to bag his 12th goal of the year from yet another Barnes helper.
"We knew that St. Viator would come out strong, just because of what a Carmel-St. Viator rivalry game is all about," said Krawzak. "But we handled things really well during that time, and now with this win we've put ourselves in a very good spot from here on out."
After Carmel plays Lake Zurich on Thursday, it will go to Marian Catholic on Saturday morning with a chance to finish league play at 8-1-0.
Benet (5-1-0), which defeated the Corsairs 1-0 two weeks ago, has Marian Catholic, Marian Central Catholic and St. Viator remaining, knowing 3 wins will guarantee it a share of the ESCC crown.