Boys soccer: Nunez, Stevenson deliver against Round Lake
Jake Nunez's 65th-minute goal helped Stevenson's boys soccer team to a 2-1 win over Round Lake on Wednesday night at Barrington Community Stadium in the regional opener for both clubs.
Next up for the 10th-seeded Patriots (10-5-2) will be No. 2 Barrington in the regional final at 3 p.m. Saturday. The Broncos advanced by edging Buffalo Grove 1-0.
"We played to a 0-0 draw the first time we played, and I know they were missing 3-4 players from an already very talented team, so we knew we were in for tough one tonight -- and that's exactly what we got," said Kevin Heffernan, who was filling in for long-time Stevenson head coach Mark Schartner. "Our goal beforehand was to try to put an early one in to put them on their heels, put plenty of pressure on them, especially in the first 10-15 minutes, then see what happens after that. We did just that, and it worked out really well for us tonight."
Steven O'Reilly stunned the No. 7-seeded Panthers (13-3-5) in the opening minute as the junior fired past Abel Campa with an 8-yard blast.
The Northern Lake County Conference champs had troubles solving the Patriots' defense, thanks in part to senior David Brandt, who was stationed in front of his back four and won nearly every first and second ball to help keep the high-powered Panthers attack and high-scoring striker Alejandro Sotelo under wraps.
Despite the concerted efforts of Brandt and back-line mates Jack Allen, Hunter Tam, Joel Fleming and Matthew Randell, there was no way for the unit to stop a brilliant solo effort from Sotelo, whose 29th goal of the season tied it in the 40th minute.
Sotelo, making something out of nothing, was given just enough time and space to send his 35-yard effort up and over the extended gloves of keeper Zachary Klaber just seconds before intermission.
"That's not the start we wanted tonight for sure, but we got ourselves back into the game with that late goal before the break, and after that it was just back and forth, with a couple of calls we weren't happy with -- but that's kind of the way this sport goes," said Round Lake coach Hugo Tellez.
The teams continued to test one another after the break, with a few chances falling to both. But hard-fought affair was eventually settled by the Nunez, who fired past Campa from just inside the box.
Minutes later, the Round Lake coaching staff voiced its displeasure with a non-call on a 50-50 challenge between Klaber and Sotelo. Tellez was booked for dissent, while a Panthers assistant was sent off after receiving his second yellow card.
"We all thought it should have been a PK on that play, the referee didn't, and that was a tough one for all of us to understand at that point," said Tellez.
Round Lake poured forward in the final eight minutes but was unable to find the back of the net, thus ending a wonderful season for Tellez and his club.
"What makes a night like this so difficult is that this team is like family," said Tellez, "and that's what is so hard about these season ending losses."