Boys soccer: St. Pat's denies Maine South regional title
With a moment of brilliance -- twice -- Joshua Torres dashed the hopes of No. 8 seed Maine South from an upset of state power St. Patrick.
The Shamrocks' scoring star would erase Matt Skorupa's second half go-ahead goal with his equalizer then stun the Hawks (13-7-1) with his late game-winner, to help the top seed claim a 3-2 victory Monday night in a Class 3A boys soccer regional final in River Grove on the campus of Triton Junior College.
"We did just about everything right but win the game," said a disappointed Hawks coach Dan States, whose team followed the tactical plan perfectly for nearly 80 minutes only to have Torres complete the Shamrocks' comeback to give them their fourth consecutive regional title.
"The work rate and effort put forth by this team tonight was all I could ever ask for. The difference was Torres, who no doubt is a very special player," said States, who was head coach at Pat's from 1992-1999.
"Our plan all along was to pressure them high, force them from playing wide and to win first and second balls to control the midfield, and that's exactly what we did. In that first half, we denied Torres the ball but as you saw, when we gave him a little bit of room and time he showed just how special a player he is."
With Sam McGinnis and Jackson Wambach winning the aerial and ground war in the middle of the park, the Hawks were able to keep the Shamrocks (22-2-3) from finding their pace and rhythm in the first period.
That, coupled with the back line led by the center-back duo of Konrad Kutrzuba and Skorupa staying organized and positionally aware, it proved enough to help the Hawks gain confidence with every minute that went by.
Both keepers (Luke Lorenc of Maine South) were sensational when called upon but its was Jorge Cebrero who kept the Shamrocks from chasing more of the game than they would need to.
Cebrero's kick save on a wicked angled attempt from Giuliano Corazzina at 16 minutes was impressive but not as much as his second on the Hawks' leading scorer just before the intermission during a 1v1 opportunity.
Narcizo Ibarra opened the scoring at 34 minutes, but it was John Cronnolly who answered with the equalizer sixty seconds later.
When a Cronnolly corner was spilled just outside the six-yard box, Skorupa would not miss his chance with a quality finish to give South the lead at 46 minutes.
"South made us do a lot of things we normally do not do and that was one of a couple of reasons this was such a hard-fought game and win for us," said Pat's coach Kyle McClure.
Torres would level in the 62nd minute with a superb outside the foot one-timer after freshman Jake Lane sent the junior through on the left side.
When it appeared this highly entertaining regional final was headed for extra time, Aaron Moreno-Lopez sent a perfect ball onto the foot of Torres, who brought the Shamrock crowd to its feet in spectacular fashion when he bagged his 33rd of the season.
"Dan (States) had his guys so well prepared, they stayed with their tactical plan, and made it so hard for us to play the way we wanted to so he and his players deserve a lot of credit for their play tonight," said McClure.
"There's not much to say right now, except that I am very proud of this team and with the way they played for 80 minutes to give us a chance to beat a terrific opponent," said States.