Boys soccer: Morton prevails in latest matchup with Naperville North
Johnny Murillo did a little sweet talking to Morton teammate Gio Alvarez midway through the first half of Tuesday's Class 3A Lewis University supersectional against familiar foe Naperville North.
Murillo convinced Alvarez to allow him to take a free kick just outside of the 18 with 19:19 left to play in the first half, scored on it and it gave the Mustangs the kind of start they needed in a 2-1 victory.
It was the fourth time since 2016 that Morton and Naperville North played in a supersectional against each other. The teams are now 2-2, respectively, during that time frame.
Morton advanced to face Fremd in Friday's 7 p.m. Class 3A state semifinal in Hoffman Estates.
"This is an excellent feeling," Murillo said. "When I got moved up we beat (Naperville North on PKs (in 2019) so it was another good feeling beating another great team by fighting through it."
Using his natural left-footed boot, Murillo curled in his shot just inside the near post, backing up his faith in himself that he was the right man for the job.
"Gio (Alvarez) always takes the free kick, well on the left side I get to shoot it too, and I was feeling it," Murillo said. "I told Gio, let me take this one. I said I feel it, I have confidence that it's going to go in. I didn't think about nothing. I just took the shot and it went in. Gio wanted to curve it into the second post, but I was like just let me curve it in with my left it's a good shot for my left side."
Luis Gonzalez extended the Mustangs lead to 2-0 with 7:28 left in the half. It gave Morton a little bit of a cushion, while putting the Huskies in a two-goal hole that's difficult for any team to rally back from, let alone with the stakes as high as a trip to state.
"A couple mistakes early bit us, but I couldn't be prouder with the way the boys battled back for the next 70 minutes and we did everything we could to score," Huskies coach Jim Konrad said. "They did not go away when we were down 2-0 and that would be easy to do. They fought back and I thought we had the best of play in the second half and just couldn't find the goal. They made some great plays and we were unlucky. Soccer can be cruel sometimes."
Naperville North (21-6-2) had shots, and while some were about as close as finding a way into the back of the net as possible, they just wouldn't result in the coveted equalizer after Keegan Flaherty set up fellow senior Cam Radeke to make it 2-1 with still 36:19 of action remaining.
"We got those two early goals and we did what we had to get done, and we really wanted this one," Morton goalkeeper Daniel Martinez said. "They were pushing and very aggressive and we tried to stay back and defend and stay calm. They had fans screaming. It was a very intense game."
Martinez received a yellow card with 16:50 left and it resulted in a great chance for the Huskies with a short indirect free kick, but Jacob Ryu's shot bounced around with replacement keeper Sebastian Mayorga hanging tough while just getting called to duty.
"That was a great save by him," Martinez said. "It hit his hand and the top post and it bounced out. It was a very lucky for us and a great save by him. He came up big in the moment."
The Huskies kept charging hard to draw even, but Morton's defense hung tough, challenging their ability to be dangerous.
"You hate to lose, but if you lose you want to lose to a classy program and we did that tonight," Konrad said. "I wish them all the luck moving forward. And I'm proud of the boys. Being in the final eight in state is a big deal. It's a huge deal and to do it five times in a row is something that we're proud of. Obviously a trip downstate would've been great and we'll give it another go next year."