Boys soccer: Close, but not to be for Fremd
St. Patrick wrote its name into its program history books as juniors Joshua Torres and Jaden Buelvas inspired the Shamrocks into Class 3A state boys soccer glory against Fremd Tuesday night at Barrington Community Stadium.
The dynamic duo sent St. Pat's (25-2-3) into the state semifinals at Hoffman Estates Friday night at 7 p.m. against downstate Morton after an exciting 5-3 victory over the Mid-Suburban League champions to claim its first state appearance since 2017.
"It was a game of contrasting styles but we felt all along if we played our game and stayed strong in the back and defended their strengths we could win this game and move on," said St. Pat's classy senior defender Jonathan Rodriguez, who is one of five others who were starters as freshmen and have been key figures in the rise of one of the top programs in the state during the past few seasons.
"(That) was a very good soccer team. We expected as much from video and scouting reports. They have a lot of quality and they proved to be a little better than us tonight," said Vikings coach Steve Keller.
The spacious turf at Barrington proved to be an advantage to a Shamrocks club that is as sound technically as any around.
Aaron Moreno-Lopez and Luis Angel Saucedo were the focal points of a high-tempo fluid attack and it was Moreno-Lopez who opened the scoring when he converted his spot kick at 11 minutes after a hand ball was detected inside the Vikings' (15-2-4) box.
"Fremd was big and strong, and really defended well in their own end but we stayed with what we do well and eventually it paid off for us," said Saucedo, another four-year veteran for the Shamrocks.
The Vikings, who have shown great resiliency all throughout the regular season and right on through the state series, fired back with the equalizer six minutes later when John Kating redirected a Russell Beaupre corner.
"We came right back to get back even and we played well the rest of the half after Kating's goal, but we let up a couple of bad goals after the break, which forced us to chase the game," said Beaupre.
Kyle Johnston would graze the bar with his long-range blast at 33 minutes for the Vikings, while Beaupre just missed minutes into the second period.
However, when Torres, who was held silent for the first half came to life, it would dash the chances of the Vikings for their first state appearance since 2014.
The product of the Chicago Fire Academy would help produce several waves of attacks after the Beaupre miss, the first resulting in Buelvas' first goal in the 57th minute then next on a brilliant through ball to Buelvas who made it 3-1 four minutes later.
"We did a very good job of containing No. 21 (Torres) but then up stepped No. 20 (Buelvas), who is very talented in his own right," said Keller.
The Shamrocks were awarded another PK in the 65th minute but after Vikings keeper Artur Cholewa turned away Torres' spot kick he unfortunately gave a rebound away in which Sebastian Estrada steered in from close range.
The Vikings did not go away.
Kaelan Conway halved the Pat's lead at 74 minutes then converted his spot kick three minutes later to bring the big crowd to its feet in anticipation of a frantic finish.
However, with the Vikings pushing numbers forward in search of the equalizer, Torres would close the match out with his second goal in the closing seconds of regulation.
"This loss stings right now, but when we look back we'll all realize just how amazing this season was," said Beaupre.
"The guys responded well tonight and they fought hard right until the very last moments of the game and for that I am very proud of all of them," said Keller. "I've said all along this is a special group of guys, and it's been so much fun to be around them this entire season and I've enjoyed the journey and I know they have as well."