Boys soccer: Berk's goal is big as BG edges out Warren
Buffalo Grove sophomore Alex Berk picked a good time for his first goal of the season.
It was the only one in Wednesday night's Class AA Stevenson regional semifinal in Lincolnshire. Berk's tally and keeper Daniel Sempoch's 11 saves helped fifth-seeded Buffalo Grove edge No. 12 Warren 1-0.
Sempoch stopped 10 shots in the second half, as the Bison (16-4-1) advanced to Saturday's 10 a.m. final against Mid-Suburban League rival and fourth-seeded Wheeling (13-5-1).
"First games are very tough, and that's the 12th seed in the sectional," Buffalo Grove coach Brad Abel said. "(Warren) was a very, very good team. They pushed us mentally. You can't take anybody for granted at all. It was a good game, and at this point it's about surviving and moving on. Our focus shifts to training and getting ready for Wheeling on Saturday."
Buffalo Grove had the wind at its back in the first half but couldn't score. Warren (10-11-3) allowed the Bison few quality scoring chances.
"It got a little dicey going into that wind," Abel said. "It was pretty tight between the posts. Our defense bent a little bit, but they held it together."
Buffalo Grove's goal came in the 45th minute, when Kevin Elioza hit a free kick toward the left side. The ball caromed off the crossbar, Berk ran onto the ball and headed it in.
"I was just hoping for a rebound. I knew that the shot was on target," Berk said. "Elioza is a great kicker."
Sempoch stopped shot after shot the entire second half. He also had help from defenders Brian Hanus, Christian Kozaczka, Jack Keady and Shane Adams.
"I was just doing my job as a keeper," Sempoch said. "I was just throwing my body at the ball. It doesn't matter if you got hurt or anything. You just got to keep the ball out of the net. In the second half, (Warren) threw everything they had at me."
Warren didn't have one of its best seasons, but pull together down the stretch.
"We put everything out there, and it was awesome," Warren coach Jason Ahonen said. "That was a fun game, and that's what it needs to be. That shows me where we want to be. We left everything out there tonight. The ball just didn't bounce our way.
"These seniors showed our underclassmen and juniors the way over the last week in a half," Ahonen added. "It was tremendous and it will benefit us going forward. I honestly wish this year wasn't done because this was fun."