Boys soccer: St. Charles North edges Glenbard N.in regional semi
Dawid Szeliga just kept running.
Tied 1-1 during the first overtime period of the Class 3A regional semifinal between St. Charles North and Glenbard North, Szeliga stayed true to his instincts on a 50-50 breakaway with Panthers goalie Stavros Veremis charging at a through ball as it approached the box.
On the approach, Veremis appeared to slightly hesitate on the pickup and it gave Szeliga enough of a window to poke it past him, which helped vault the North Stars to an eventual 2-1 overtime victory.
"I just kept going and that's what I've been doing all season is just keep defensively pressuring the other team," said Szeliga, a North Stars senior forward, of the pivotal play. "A lucky little toe tap [did it]."
"Unfortunately, we just have a communication breakdown [where] guys were telling him from the bench to let it get into the box," Glenbard North coach Spero Mandakas said. "He tries to make a decision at the spot. Unfortunately, it goes that way, but we battled."
The North Stars (6-3-6) advanced to face York in Friday's 6 p.m. regional final.
The ultimate game-winning play was hardly the only heart-pounding moment in a game full of them.
The North Stars led for nearly the entirety of regulation on a goal from Robert Keldani six minutes into the first half, but the Panthers' aggressiveness in the attacking third finally paid off after a bit of a sluggish first half. Panthers junior Pablo De la Cruz smoked a chance past goalie Alex Curtis for the equalizer with 4:27 left in regulation, which catapulted the game into a frenzy on both ends for the final minutes.
"We find that tying goal. I feel like we have a lot of momentum," Mandakas said.
Despite perhaps a miscommunication by Veremis for the game-deciding goal, the junior goalie did everything he could to even keep the Panthers (8-10-3) in the game, including at least three saves in the first half that appeared destined for the back of the net, but an outstretched hand on dives deterred it.
"We just talked about it. Pablo's goal, if Stav's not in net, that's 'Hey we pulled one back. It's 3-1 because [St. Charles North] could've had a few others where a lot of keepers don't get to those. He kept us in it. He battled," Mandakas said.
"I think the first half, we were in control," North Stars coach Eric Willson said. "I thought [Veremis], to be honest, kept them in that game and made some phenomenal saves in the first half. When you're able to do that, you give life to the rest of your team and you could see the energy that started to spark off of them."
The Panthers kept up the pressure and nearly pulled off a miracle as regulation began to wane. With 18 seconds left, Glenbard North executed a corner kick, which was launched into traffic at the net. It appeared for a moment they may have scored, but it was ruled no-goal and the game progressed into overtime.
"What my perspective was, I was back post [and] standing on the line," Szeliga said. "I saw the [Max Montgomery, who was inserted for the crucial play]. Everyone was running, ball was flowing within the 1-yard-line. The goalkeeper's back hit the ball, it's rolling and a kid boots it. It did not go over the line, though. That's what I saw. I ran over to the [official]. I was hoping he saw the same thing that I did."