Boys soccer: West Chicago beats Jacobs to earn state berth
One of West Chicago's goals this year was to get to state, which was a huge one since the Wildcats were coming off a losing season and had never gotten there before.
Behind a pair of goals from Jessie Hernandez and a standout defensive effort from Ben Suddeth and the back line, West Chicago made history, beating Jacobs 2-0 in Tuesday's Class 3A Conant supersectional.
The Wildcats (22-2-3) will face Edwardsville (21-4-1) at 5 p.m. Friday in a state semifinal at Hoffman Estates.
"We talked about getting to state at the beginning of the season and now look at us," Wildcats senior Moises Morfin said. "We accomplished it, but we're not done yet."
Morfin got fouled in the box with 14:45 remaining in the first half but handed the ball to senior teammate Jessie Hernandez to take the penalty kick. That's selflessness defined for the benefit of the team.
"He looked at me, gave me the ball and told me to take it," Hernandez said. "I've been so confident taking them lately, but I was kind of nervous at first because of the crowd and the guys were pressuring me, but I just ignored them and shot the PK and scored."
The Golden Eagles (16-5-3) were not without their opportunities in the first half with junior forward Liam Armstrong proving to be most dangerous, but the Wildcats locked down defensively, like they have all season long, earning their 16th shutout.
"It's pretty deflating when (goalkeeper) Preston (Krahl) makes a big save then we get a PK because that was the only real opportunity they had," Jacobs coach Colin Brice said. "I thought we had three good chances in the first half. If we put those away I think it's a different game. In the second half we didn't create enough chances to put ourselves back into the game."
The Wildcats played a man down for 39 minutes of the second half after a red card, but they not only held on but added an insurance goal while minimizing Jacobs from being much of a threat on the other end of the field.
"When we got the red card we talked and said we're going to play with all heart," Morfin said. "We showed people. We didn't do this for just us. We did this for the whole town."
Hernandez fired in a 25-yard missile just inside the far post with 18:49 remaining to provide some insurance for the Wildcats.
"I didn't see it go in, but I heard the crowd and just started celebrating," he said. "Our crowd here was great. The school gave us two fan buses that came and supported us so we had to give them what they came for."
And they got that and much more in witnessing program history.
"Since Day One in practice, even in tryouts, the goal we talked about was state and we set it," Suddeth said. "We've been practicing every day, day in and day out to get there and now we're there."
The Golden Eagles certainly had the advantage in the second half but couldn't capitalize.
"I think they started pressing and we were able to break our line and connect," Suddeth said. "We played possession and it was much easier for us to move the ball and find our forwards."
Jacobs was making its third appearance in a supersectional in four seasons, but a trip to state remains elusive.
"When you're in a supersectional you're going to play a tough team and West Chicago is the most technical team we've played all year and they're going to do great things this weekend," Brice said. "Our boys just mentally we're a little out of it today, so I think next year we'll come back and return to a supersectional."