Highland Park denies Stevenson
Stevenson's boys soccer team wanted to keep its season going and play in its own sectional later this week.
But Highland Park had roughly the same idea, and one penalty kick in favor of the Giants late Saturday afternoon ended the Patriots' season abruptly.
Highland Park, the No. 15 seed in the sectional, prevailed with a 2-1 victory over No. 10 seed Stevenson for a Class 3A regional title in Highland Park.
The Giants (7-10-5) will next play No. 3 seed Libertyville (14-3-1) in the Stevenson sectional semifinal at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in Lincolnshire. The North Suburban Conference champion Wildcats shut out No. 11 seed Palatine 3-0 to take the Fremd regional championship.
"It was all momentum, even before the goal there," Stevenson coach Mark Schartner said. "The guys flipped the switch. The wind really affected our style of play. It was hard and Highland Park doesn't keep the ball on the ground. The ball was always in the air and always bouncing. It was hard for us."
Stevenson (9-8-3) fought back from a 1-0 deficit to tie the game in the 65th minute. Off a corner kick, the Patriots kept the ball alive in the penalty area before Matt Randall delivered his first goal of the season.
"It gave us more hope to bring us back into this game," Randall said. "We had the potential, and we knew that if we played like the game before (against Round Lake), it could bring us back all the way."
The Patriots had a couple more scoring chances minutes after Randall's goal but saw their shots go just wide.
In the 75th minute, the Giants' Aidan Subra was taken down in the penalty area, which led to Eamonn Moore scoring the game-winning goal on a penalty kick.
"(Stevenson) pushed three guys up after we were up," Highland Park coach Blake Novotny said. "That put us in a little bit of pressure. We were close to getting a second one so many times early in the second half. It was too bad that we let in a goal. The momentum went the other way and they even had a couple more chances. But after the PK, I thought our guys played responsible soccer."
Highland Park got its opening goal from Tommy Quirk off a pass from Subra in the 36th minute.
But the Patriots had a penalty kick stopped by Giants keeper Juan Chavez (6 saves) and also had a goal disallowed in the second half.
Stevenson has 11 seniors who had worked hard all season.
"They're an amazing group," Schartner said. "I feel bad for them. I thought that Highland Park was very disruptive and I thought their goalie had a great game."