Boys soccer: Timothy Christian upsets Benet in overtime in 2A sectional final
Owen Wise's aim was way off, but his flair for the dramatic was spot on.
The Timothy Christian junior didn't hit his target on the 23-yard free kick he took in the first overtime of Saturday's Class 2A St. Francis Sectional final against Benet. He didn't even come close.
Wise sent his low shot past a four-man wall and off the hands of diving Benet goalkeeper Drew Connell and inside the right post with 5:06 left in the first overtime.
"I had another free kick goal against another team," Wise said. "It was the same kind of situation - just outside the right side of the box.
"I went top left, and that's what I was honestly aiming for (this time), but you know what, things happen. But a goal is a goal."
And this goal stood up as the game-winner as Timothy Christian continued its playoff run with a 2-1 overtime upset of top-seeded Benet.
It is the first sectional championship in 2A for the third-seeded Trojans, who qualified for the 1A semifinals in each of the past two seasons. Timothy Christian (18-6-3) advances to play Crystal Lake South (19-4-1) in the Grayslake Central Supersectional at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
"It's eye-opening because this is the farthest we've gone in 2A," Wise said. "We got to this point in 2017, and this is almost like my dream because I've been watching Timothy quite a bit through the years. It's just huge to be a part of it."
Wise's play was huge for the Trojans and not only on the free kick, which broke a 1-1 tie and came after junior forward Hendrik DeVries was dumped just outside the box. When the ball left Wise's foot, it didn't go where he intended and so he wasn't expecting it to end up in the back of the net.
"I was honestly surprised because I was like, 'Let's just hit it as hard as I almost can and we'll see if we can get a touch on it or it just goes in,'" Wise said. "Gladly, it did, so I was super excited for that."
The Trojans, who were outshot 18-8, went into a defensive posture for the final 15 minutes of the two overtime periods. Goalkeeper Peter Buikema made three of his seven saves after regulation and Timothy may have caught a break when a Benet goal was disallowed by an offsides call with 10 seconds remaining in the second overtime period.
"We just kind of parked the bus," Wise said. "We had the confidence that we were going to win, so holding that 2-1 lead is kind of huge."
Timothy Christian coach Joel Zielke said Wise, who is listed as a defender but can play nearly anywhere on the field, was a catalyst.
"He's a great player for us," Zielke said. "We use him all over the field."
DeVries delivered the first strike of the match when he made a steal on the left wing and beat Connell with a 25-yard shot just 56 seconds after halftime.
Brendan Bergnach answered for Benet (14-4-3) by rattling a left-footed 23-yard laser off the underside of the crossbar and in with 30:44 left in the second half.
But the Redwings couldn't find another goal.
"It was a really tough game," Benet coach Matt Klosterman said. "We did a lot right and made a couple of mistakes, and they really capitalized on the mistakes.
"Credit to them. We knew that's how they've been advancing. They're tough to score on and when they get a chance, they really make it count."
The Trojans now have beaten three consecutive higher-ranked opponents in the playoffs in Wheaton Academy, Rockford Boylan and Benet, which came in riding a 14-game unbeaten streak during which they had surrendered only two goals and had posted 12 shutouts.
"We've got a lot of confidence with this group," Zielke said. "Everybody looks at us as the underdog, but we don't have that mentality.
"Our mentality is that we're here to compete every night and we've got enough quality that we feel like we can beat anybody in the state."