Boys soccer: Elgin's two-goal surge enough to beat Crystal Lake Central
Elgin had many chances go unfinished, but there were two successful opportunities early and that was enough.
Rafael Perez's corner kick prowess connected with Maroon scoring sensation Omar Lopez twice in five-minute span for Wednesday's 2-0 victory over Crystal Lake Central in the opening semifinal of the Class 3A Hampshire sectional.
"It's another step forward," Elgin coach David Borg said after his squad earned a first appearance in a sectional final. "We had a tendency today to play in spurts, we put together a great 10 minutes. If we could only put together 60 or more, it could be really impressive, but a win is a win."
Elgin (17-1-3) advances to Friday's 5 p.m. championship to face a familiar foe in fellow Upstate Eight Conference member Streamwood. The two sides battled to a 2-2 draw during the regular season.
There was 6:09 gone when the Maroons got a penalty kick and Perez served the first of two setups that up his assist total to 11. Lopez timed a jump to make a one-touch volley into the left side of the goal for the lead.
Just over five minutes elapsed when the duo teamed up again, this time with Lopez heading it home from 11 yards bringing his season total to 41 goals and six game-winners.
"Rafael delivered beautiful balls on both. The first one I saw the keeper leaning and I just placed it where he couldn't get to it," Lopez said. "I don't care so much about how many goals as long as we play well and get the W. We train to win and that's our plan for Friday."
"Every day at practice I work on placing the ball the best I can," Perez explained. "It's always about communicating with my teammates."
Since a number of other chances went unfinished, it was no wonder Borg had particular praise for the Maroon back line of Olaoluwa Ajayi, Alex Kunicki, Manuel Ramirez and Julian Garfias. They combined with goalie Martin Jimenez to record an eighth shutout for the year and a fourth straight.
"Omar deserves the press he gets but so does our back line," Borg said. "Kunicki did a great job in locking things down along with Manny, Olaoluwa, and Julian."
The loss ends a surprising late-season run by Crystal Lake Central (8-9-2), which posted back-to-back upsets to capture the DeKalb regional title, including a 1-0 victory over the host Barbs.