Boys soccer: Geneva stuns Conant on McPheron's late goal
Braeden McPheron was not happy with how he was playing during Geneva's Class 3A Conant regional semifinal against the host Cougars on Tuesday night in Hoffman Estates.
But his teammates were thrilled he was on the field to make the play of the game with 1:12 remaining to lift the Vikings to a 2-1 victory.
Geneva (13-4-4) advances to Saturday's regional championship against either Bartlett or Glenbard West. The Vikings have not won a regional title since 2010.
"I just wasn't having a very good game to start and I was just in my head," McPheron said. "I had to stay in the game and not let that bother me."
Conant (6-12-2) had stunned the Vikings with 5:27 remaining when Dan Takemoto found Maciej Matusiak for the equalizer.
"I thought we would have been able to grab some of that (momentum) and then I could tell we didn't have it and just wanted to hang on for OT," Conant coach Jason Franco said. "If we get to OT we can kind of regroup and maybe be able to see it out, and maybe penalties would have been a situation for us. We weren't playing for that but I thought that would have been in our favor. It's frustrating to give one up with (1:12) left."
Shun Yonehara was able to find McPheron on a long free kick and the sophomore hammered it home for his second goal of the season.
"I had to be at the right place at the right time to finish and I missed a sitter before so I had to finish this one to send us through," McPheron said. "We knew we could get one back. It was just a matter of when and how we were going to, and we have been practicing those set pieces all season. Most of our goals have been off of those. We just had to finish one to end the game."
Christian Diaz had given the Vikings a lead with 25:15 left in the opening half when he redirected a corner kick from Yonehara.
"Me and Shun have been having these chemistry plays for a long time now," Diaz said. "This whole season we have been having this amazing connection, and on the corner set plays and all others it's just continued in the postseason."
The Cougars never quit and were able to take the game down to the very end by not allowing the Vikings to add an insurance goal. The Vikings certainly had their fair share of opportunities to pull ahead 2-0.
"I told the guys how the next goal matters, because if they get one, they get a lot of confidence and think they can play and are going to keep up for the majority of the game," Geneva coach Jason Bhatta said. "If you let teams stay alive then you're going to get punished for that. I'm just happy we got the ball at the end."
The Cougars fought to the very end.
"I was happy with our guys' effort," Franco said. "They gave us a shot to win the game. I feel that one-minute short has been our story of the season. We have been on the edge of making a play to win a game and just can't seem to make that last play."