Boys soccer: Hersey's win sets up rematch with Fremd
Hersey will get another chance at MSL champion Fremd after its hard fought, tense 1-0 victory over Prospect Tuesday night in a regional semifinal at Roland Goins Stadium in Arlington Heights.
The No. 8 seed Huskies (10-6-1) drew inspiration from senior Charlie Shiffman, whose eventual game-winning goal in the 57th minute would be all the home side would need to advance and set up their third chance to beat Fremd when they meet in the regional final at 6 p.m. Friday.
"We all said after losing to Fremd in the MSL Soccer Cup that we were hoping to meet Fremd once again (so) we're excited for the opportunity," said Shiffman, who ran freely onto a well driven corner from Adrian Szumski to earn the goal of his career for the Huskies and coach Mike Rusniak.
"Charlie scored a big one for us tonight, and he, along with our back line, did a great job of staying with our game plan -- identifying (their) top guys and taking advantage of our chances," said Rusniak.
The No. 9 seeded Knights (10-6-2), who enjoyed their finest season in recent memory, had most of the possession in the first half. But they were unable to pry open a well organized Huskies back line of Matt Carlson, Andrew Hamilton, Alex Masztek and Shiffman.
"Our back line played great tonight. (Prospect) has some great players, especially No. 7 (Ryan Novak), but we defended really well as a team to earn a big win," said Shiffman.
"We had a lot of the play in the first half, and possession, but we didn't get the ball into dangerous spots in their end. And a lapse in the middle of the game ended with them putting the ball into the back of our net," said Knights coach Mike Andrews.
The visitors were saved once again by its all-state candidate between the sticks, Alejandro Rider-Leiner, with a pair of superb first half saves -- his best coming at the half-hour against the aforementioned Szumski.
The senior also pushed a long free kick from the midline by Danny Duray up and over and onto the roof of his net just before Shiffman's opener.
"Alejandro is an amazing keeper, and he, along with Novak were two guys we knew would give us the most trouble tonight (and) they were. So we feel fortunate to have taken this one against such a terrific opponent," said Rusniak, who late in the season saw his club drop a 2-1 contest to the Knights.
"It's always difficult to see your team go out so early in the tournament, and especially for the seniors who have given so much to this program during their four years," said Andrews. "I am very proud of this group of players who have been terrific both on and off the field. They have been an outstanding bunch of young men to be around."