Boys soccer: Carmel makes Class 2A final four

 
By Rusty Silber
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 11/3/2015 9:59 PM
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The recognizable refrain, as Carmel Catholic's boys soccer team celebrated the first supersectional victory in program history: Ole! Ole! Ole!

The Corsairs had played at the supersectional level before, but advancing to Class 2A final four was well worth a little bit of singing, so Carmel's players circled up on the turf at Maine South High School and let loose their lungs.

Carmel Catholic roared past Elmwood Park 4-1 Tuesday night to earn their historic spot in the state's final four.

Austin Ehren scored 2 goals and assisted on another, and Michael Alamu and Braco Lasso also scored.

Carmel Catholic (18-3-1) next meets Waterloo in the Class 2A state semifinals at 1 p.m. Friday at Hoffman Estates High School.

Waterloo shut out Springfield 3-0 in the Jacksonville supersectional at Illinois College on Tuesday night.

"It's a long time coming and I think that we really have a talented group of kids right now," Carmel Catholic coach Ray Krawzak said. "It really feels good. We've got powerful players at every position, with strong senior leadership."

The Corsairs started growing closer during the season and then found the right pieces to help them to a share of the East Suburban Catholic Conference title before starting a strong push in the postseason.

"We found the right chemistry and the right dynamic," Krawzak said. "It's not how you play at the beginning of the season -- it's how you play now. We're playing really well now, constantly, every single game. Now we always expect to win. We had a couple really good battles in the (Harvard) sectional and we showed up in this one."

Senior central midfielder Lasso said he and his teammates have had a keen focus on taking this team deeper into the postseason than any time in Carmel's history.

"Honestly, this means everything, we've worked so hard throughout the year," Lasso said. "Carmel really hasn't made it this far. We didn't feel like we would win this game right away."

Ehren started the scoring three minutes into the match off a corner kick. He finished his opportunity on a header following a cross from JJ Paulson for a 1-0 Corsairs lead.

"It meant a lot for the team to get the first goal," Ehren said. "That's so we could build up from there."

The Corsairs thought they'd scored again in the 28th minute, but the goal was waved off for offsides.

Ehren added an assist in the 34th minute. He started the opportunity with a run up the left side of the penalty area and dropped the ball across for Alamu, who finished the chance.

Lasso made it 3-0 with a low shot that hit the far post from 25 yards out and carried into the goal in the 45th minute.

Ehren added his second goal on a penalty kick in the 72nd minute for the 4-0 advantage.

Elmwood Park (17-5) scored two minutes later as Konrad Malinowski nailed his 30th goal of the season on a penalty kick.

"I thought we had some pretty good chances in the first half," Elmwood Park coach Martin Blake said. "I thought it was a 50/50 game for a while until that second goal. We're not a perennial supersectional team, but we belong. I was impressed with Carmel's backs. They were really strong, holding back our scorers."

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