United stops Kaneland

By Chris Walker
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 10/26/2012 10:53 PM

Once a soccer match gets into overtime, anything can happen.

Unfortunately for Kaneland, what happened in OT during Friday night's Class 2A Sterling sectional championship against East Moline United put an end to its season.

The Panthers' leading scorer, Drew Merideth, connected just 1:33 into overtime and the Knights were unable to score the equalizer in the overtime or in the second overtime, losing 3-2.

"Drew did a nice job on a free kick," East Moline United coach Phil Weaver said.

It was Merideth's 28th goal of the season.

Kaneland (16-4-2) put together a mad rush to score the equalizer in the final minute of the second overtime, but the Panthers (21-3-3) thwarted the Knights' effort to earn their first trip to a supersectional since they won a title in 1999.

"It was a good game with two very good teams," Kaneland coach Scott Parillo said. "Unfortunately, we came out on the short end of the stick, and it's a tough one to take, but it was a heck of a season and I'm proud of my guys."

Tyler Sibert put the Knights ahead 1-0 in the first half but the Panthers answered right back with a pair of goals to take a 2-1 lead. Kaneland was able to recapture some momentum heading into halftime when a shot by Alec Koczak was inadvertently sent into he back of the net by a East Moline United defender, knotting things at 2-all.

"Unfortunately we had some miscommunication and they were able to (tie it)," Weaver said. "I thought Kaneland kept the ball down and were able to move it and cause some problems. I thought we congested them in the midfield but they still were able to pass from side to side and take some shots."

Despite the loss, the Knights will be remembered for their historic season, going deeper into the state series than any other Knights team and winning their second regional title in three years.

"I'm so proud of these guys because they gradually got better and better and then went on a nice run," Parillo said. "I wish we could've gone further because the guys have worked so hard and you always hate to lose, but that's soccer."

Many of the Knights players work part-time time jobs during the off-season so the team never held practices on Saturdays. While many high school athletes have to balance academics with athletics, most of the Knights were also juggling part-time work to help their families make ends meet.

"Do we win this if we could've practiced on Saturdays? I don't know," Parillo said. "But it says a lot about the hard work of all of our kids."

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