Boys soccer: Oswego East knocks out Batavia
As the minutes ticked off the scoreboard, Ben Burns could feel the pressure mounting on Tuesday night at Batavia.
The Oswego East senior finished a beautiful pass from Josh Frank, and it allowed the Wolves to finally break through with 2:22 remaining in the first half of their Class 3A regional semifinal against the host Bulldogs.
It would provide the lift the Wolves needed as they kept their season alive with a 3-0 victory. Oswego East advance to Friday's regional championship against the Oswego-Metea Valley winner.
"There was a lot of pressure on us all half to score and I felt we had a ton of chances but couldn't finish," Burns said. "That was the biggest relief when I saw the ball go into the back of the net."
Frank had saved the ball from rolling out of bounds with hustle and then beat a defender while finding Burns simultaneously.
"He picked his head up and found me," Burns said. "I kind of had my back to the goal so I just took one touch with my right foot to the left of me and just shot the ball in the corner."
Batavia (5-13), which dropped its final eight games of the season, hung tough, but going from a scoreless game to down 1-0 so close to the midgame break was a crushing blow.
"We've been struggling in the beginning of games and the end of halves of games in giving up goals," Batavia coach Mark Gianfrancesco said. "We wanted to get through the first half without giving up any goals and we did a good job the first 10 minutes of kind of frustrating them a little bit and we did all right doing that most of the half, but then they found a kid who made a nice turn."
Oswego East senior Kellen Klosterman, who was a freshman in 2018 when the Wolves were upset by the Bulldogs in a regional semifinal game, said his club played one of its best games all year, especially in the second half.
"I think our focus was really there," he said. "I think we all really wanted to win. We have so many seniors and don't want our season to end, don't want our careers to end. It's all of us coming together and moving forward. We knew the stakes and we rose to the occasion."
Frank rolled in a shot with 28:48 left to give the Wolves (16-5-1) some breathing room.
"I thought Josh (Frank) had one of his best games," Oswego East coach Steve Szymanski said. "Even their coach came up and said No. 8 was all over the place and he was aggressive. That was a goal that in the beginning of the year he doesn't score, but now he's playing with so much confidence and he's a guy that can really help us against whomever we play next."
Burns scored his second goal of the evening with 6:01 left, taking a ball sent out to him from deep in the box by ZeDaniel Parodis-Yu.
"It was nice to see Ben get back because I know he's been putting a lot of pressure on himself and he hadn't scored in a while," Szymanski said. "I think he wanted that goal pretty bad. He had one against Plainfield East that he was a little upset that he missed so it was good to get him back on the scoreboard and get his confidence back."
The better team won.
"They moved the ball around really well and definitely exposed us in some areas," Gianfrancesco said. "It's always disappointing to lose, but they didn't quit. They kept playing and that's what they've been doing not only this year, but all four years."