Boys soccer: Second-half surge sends Jacobs into sectional final
Alex Nicastro was hopeful that Jacobs would have the wind at its back in the first half of Wednesday's Class 3A DeKalb sectional semifinal against the host Barbs.
After scoring five unanswered goals in the second half, it's understandable why the senior wanted it from the get-go as Jacobs blew past DeKalb, 7-2.
Jacobs (15-4-3) advances to Friday's sectional title game against Dundee-Crown, a 2-1 winner over Huntley.
"We knew if we could survive the first half with a tie game or having the lead, we could get after them a little bit in the second half," Jacobs coach Colin Brice said. "I thought they responded well in how they all came out in the second half."
The Golden Eagles shared their wealth, putting on an offensive show with Abraham H. Gomez, Christopher Loizzi, Nicastro, Bryan Ramos and Ruben Zarate all finding the back of the net and Liam Armstrong scoring twice.
"Our practice was super intense this week and we said we're not going to stop now, we're doing it for the seniors," Armstrong said. "We're only guaranteed 80 minutes every game and that's our mindset going through every game. We're brothers, we're family and going to fight for each other."
There's no denying that the wind played a huge factor with the Golden Eagles turning a 2-2 game at halftime into a 6-2 advantage not even midway through the second half.
Sam Rainer curved his corner kick to Loizzi not even two minutes into the second half, and the scoring onslaught was in motion. The Golden Eagles then scored three times in about a seven-minute span to break the game open.
"We told (coach) Brice that we should take the wind first to get an early goal on them, but obviously they won so we stuck with them," Nicastro said. "But they shouldn't have scored two goals on us, but obviously we got after them in the second half and used the wind to get the 'W.'"
DeKalb (12-7-3) had momentum going into the second half as it tied the game with 9.8 seconds left before halftime when Isaak Cordova slid a shot under Jacobs keeper Preston Krehl. But that sudden burst of energy didn't last long.
"With that wind, it's so much playing out there," Nicastro said. "Obviously everything went our way. They got like no chances in the second half."
John O'Connor dribbled down the sideline before dishing off a cross to Ramos who finished with 26:56 left in the first half to give Jacobs the early 1-0 advantage.
The Barbs responded on a 30-yard flick from Mauro Talamantes with 7:44 left, but the Golden Eagles answered with 1:04 remaining when Armstrong squeezed in a shot off a corner kick from Zarate.
The 7 goals were the second-most the Golden Eagles have scored in a game this season.
"We completely flipped the switch in the second half," Armstrong said. "I think that was our best half of the season by far."