Warren earns title shot
FRANKFORT -- Warren's boys soccer team has earned a shot at the Class 3A state championship.
The Blue Devils handled Sandburg 3-0 in the second semifinal Friday night at Lincoln-Way North High School.
Karl Bappert, Timmy Pieper and Sean Kirwan all scored for the Blue Devils. Pieper, Daniel Szczepanek and Nick Wegrzynowicz each had assists.
Warren (20-5-3) will take on Naperville Central (23-1), a 3-0 winn against Stevenson, in the title game 7 p.m. Saturday at Lincoln-Way North. Stevenson will meet Sandburg in the third-place game at 5 p.m.
"We're just taking things one game at a time," Warren coach Jason Ahonen said. "We've got a number of players back. We've got a number of players that are extremely dangerous. It's a team effort, and it's not just one guy.
"People focus on Daniel (Szczepanek), but he's the cog that makes the wheel go. Man, we have spokes that are all over, and we're enjoying this."
Warren finished fourth last year after a pair of painful penalty kick losses, to evenual state champion Morton in the semis, and to Fremd in the third-place match.
The Blue Devils last played in the championship in 2006, in a 1-0 loss to New Trier.
On Friday night, Warren kept up its torrid postseason scoring pace with a pair of goals in the first half.
"I bet the boys' hearts were racing and they were pumped up," Ahonen said. "Once it slowed down, we controlled the ball -- and we're dangerous with our set pieces, just like we've been on this playoff run."
Bappert scored the first Warren goal in the 24th minute off a touch from Pieper for a 1-0 lead set up by a corner kick.
"We work on set pieces every day in practice," said Bappert, who got his third goal of the season. "Set pieces have been working for us lately."
Pieper made it 2-0 Warren in the 35th minute on another set piece. Szczepanek fired a free kick on a line and Pieper headed into the back of the net.
"When we got guys that can serve the ball," said Pieper of his ninth goal, "it really does make a difference. It was great service, right to me."
Kirwan had the last goal, off a Wegrzynowicz assist in the 66th minute for the 3-0 advantage.
Blue Devils keeper RJ Hill made 7 stops against Sandburg (18-6-3) with the back line of Nick Haas, Elijah Parker, Pieper and Bappert helping out defensively.
"We didn't stick to our game plan, and we paid for it," Sandburg coach Desi Vuillaume said. "Warren was really good in the quick transition, and they took advantage of it."