Boys soccer: Palatine edges Stevenson in OT, advances to sectional final
Palatine will play Glenbrook North in the Class 3A Fremd sectional final Friday after each club reserved their spot in the 6 p.m. game at Hildebrandt Field in Palatine.
In the marquee match of the night, MSL champion Palatine (20-0-3) won in dramatic fashion - coming back from a goal down to defeat Stevenson in a tense and compelling 100 minute contest that saw the Pirates earn a hard-fought 2-1 victory to stay alive in the postseason.
Junior Jack Bacher hit the opener for the Patriots (16-3-2) in the 46th minute when he buried his close range effort after the Pirates were unable to clear a Shu Aoyagi corner.
"Even when we conceded that first goal, none of us would hang our heads. We just came together, got back to playing, because we knew we wouldn't fold as a team," said Sebastian Khoury, one of a handful of heroes for the Pirates, who have not reached a sectional final since 1995.
Karan Toor would be on the end of a Khoury corner at the back post to equalize for the Pirates with a one-timer in the 68th minute.
Patriots keeper William Rokosh stepped up to keep his club in the game with some sensational play between the sticks to ensure overtime.
Once there, Adrian Atanassov lifted the No. 2 seeded Pirates with a blistering blast to provide the eventual game-winner in the 86th minute.
"We have great leaders on this team. They give us the mental strength to help us be strong enough in games like this," said Atanassov.
The Pirates managed their lead for the next 14 minutes to send off the No. 3 seed Patriots, who would enjoy a marvelous season nonetheless.
"We stressed defending corners, throws and our box, and unfortunately, that's where we were unable to be at our best tonight," said Patriots coach PepeJon Chavez.
"We've come a long way as a team this year after losing so many great players and leaders from a third-place state team from a year ago, so I am extremely proud of what these young men have accomplished."
In the earlier game, No. 13 Rolling Meadows (10-10-2) played as if it were a top-four seed, only to fall to Glenbrook North, 1-0.
The Mustangs were magnificent against the top-seeded Spartans (19-3-2), enjoying much of the play through the middle of the first half with some terrific possession and purpose in their attack - only to have a sensational goal from Jackson Lee two minutes from the intermission do them in.
"We did everything so well against the No. 1 seed but put one into the back of their net. So I cannot begin to tell you just how proud of this group I am right now," said Mustangs coach Brett Olson.
"We knew (Meadows) would be trouble after they beat the No. 4 seed Lake Zurich to get into their regional final, and it was a combination of our poor start, and their quality play through almost the entire first half that gave us so much trouble," said Glenbrook North coach Paul Vignocchi.
When the Mustangs gave Jackson Lee just enough time and space after he turned free of a pair of players, the sophomore unloaded an unstoppable cracker high into the right corner.
"Marceli (Okonski) couldn't do a thing with that great shot from No. 27 (Lee), but he was unbelievable for us in goal. (He) showed why he was named all-state, while Brian Diaz played just an incredible 80 minutes for us in the middle of the park," said Olson.
"We had a lot of guys who did so much out there for us, and the effort everyone gave is something I am very proud of, and they should be as well."