Boys soccer: Benet, St. Patrick remain even
Benet and St. Patrick did not disappoint Tuesday afternoon in Lisle despite 90 minutes of soccer that could not settle this pulsating affair that leaves the ESCC championship still undecided.
T.J. McVey's goal at six minutes appeared to be enough for the host Redwings (13-1-2, 7-0-1) to lift the league trophy -- until Ivan A. Guerrero sent the game into overtime with his equalizer at 80 minutes.
The widely entertaining game littered with several talking points, near misses, exquisite defending and perhaps a sense of injustice in the closing moments ended in a 1-1 draw.
The result means Benet can close out St. Patrick with a victory Friday when the Redwings travel to St. Viator for its season finale.
"We control our own destiny," said McVey, who along with his teammates and coach Sean Wesley thought their overall play was good enough to earn a victory, as was a would-be game-winner from Sam Hepburn that was waved off at the final whistle.
"It's always a game of putting away your chances, and we certainly had our fair share of quality chances, especially in the first half," Wesley said.
"We put those chances away and it's 3-0 at the break, but when we didn't, we allowed a great team to stay in the game."
Wesley and his men thought for sure Hepburn beat the clock with his close-range effort in the 90th minute, but after officials gathered for 10 minutes afterward, the decision came down that Hepburn's shot did not cross the goal line before the clock struck zero.
"I honestly felt as if Sam's shot was already into the back of the net. The referee and his assistants said otherwise," Wesley said.
With the Shamrocks on the tail end of a grueling schedule of five games in the last six days, the Redwings did their best to go after their guests from the opening whistle.
If it wasn't some terrific work by Thomas Miskin and Hans Haenicke on the left side or the partnership of Nick Renfro and Nick Augustyn running the show in the middle of the park, it was the pace, energy and creativity of the home side that set the Shamrocks on their heels.
"We were without the player who is our creative genius in the midfield, Aaron Moreno-Lopez, and you could see how different our attack looks without him," said Shamrocks coach Kyle McClure.
"(That) and Benet did a good job of attacking in the first half, while on the other side of the ball, defending really well to keep us under wraps."
That said plenty of Anthony Klos, Conor Perkins, Zach Serafin and Miskin, who kept a Shamrocks club that has scored nearly 100 goals and high-scoring forward Joshua Torres quiet for nearly an hour.
Shamrocks goalkeeper Jorge Cebrero did his part to keep his mates in the game with two brilliant saves during the final moments of the first half, stopping both Nick Renfro, then Miskin.
Both five-minute extra sessions were just as wide open as the first 80 minutes of play until the Benet faithful thought their heroes had found the game-winner.
"Now it's up to us at St. Viator, and that will be our only focus from now until Friday," Miskin said.
A draw will mean St. Patrick and Benet will share the ESCC crown. A Benet loss will give St. Patrick its second consecutive conference championship.