ST. CHARLES – Forecasters are calling for unusually heavy wind gusts today as side effects from Hurricane Sandy along the East Coast are felt in the Chicago area.
The way the St. Charles East boys soccer team has been humming along, it might take an act of nature to temper the Saints’ goal-scoring barrage. East, which has outscored opponents in four postseason wins by a 22-3 margin, takes on Warren tonight in an IHSA Class 3A Barrington Supersectional.
Fresh off an 8-1 thrashing of Larkin in Friday’s sectional final, keeping level-headed might be East’s greatest challenge.
“Coach keeps telling us, we’re not there yet,” said East junior T.C. Hull, who scored the Saints’ first three goals against the Royals. “We want to get to state, we want to keep going farther, we’re not done. You just can’t get too high on yourselves. You keep working hard in practice.”
East (20-2-1) has been a high-scoring team throughout the season, but considering the postseason stakes, recent results such as 7-1 over St. Charles North in the regional final, 4-0 over Streamwood in the sectional semifinals and the eight-goal outburst against Larkin have distinguished the Saints as a legitimate contender in the Class 3A field.
“After you’ve done it once or twice, you start to believe you can do it on a regular basis,” East coach Paul Jennison said of the Saints’ prolific scoring outputs. “Not to say that will happen all the time, but you start to think you have the quality to put the ball away like that.”
East junior Daniel DiLeonardi joined Hull with a hat trick against Larkin. DiLeonardi said the Saints’ hot starts have rattled opponents.
“Once we get a few goals, we get confident so we keep getting forward, and the other team has to compensate and attack more, and that opens up more space for us to attack in,” DiLeonardi said.
The Saints’ scoring recipe hasn’t been complicated. They’re just playing crisp soccer with tremendous confidence.
“We possess well and we move off the ball to create space for each other,” DiLeonardi said. “And then we’re all so skilled individually, so we’re able to beat players 1-on-1 to get in good positions.”
Jennison said he’s not worried about the Saints’ lack of second-half pressure so far this postseason, saying East showed it could handle tense circumstances with a pair of late goals to fend off Larkin during a key, conference match late in the regular season.
In facing Warren (19-5-3), East’s string of facing three straight conference opponents in the postseason comes to a close. Warren nipped Barrington, 2-1, in the Rockford Auburn Sectional final Friday.
The Saints aim to qualify for the state semifinals for the first time since St. Charles High split at the turn of the century. If East wins, it would play at 5 p.m. Friday in the state semis against either Sandburg or Fenwick at Lincoln-Way North.
The excitement around the school is rising, Jennison said.
“It spurs these lads on when you walk around the hallway and you hear people talking about the soccer team and what we might be able to do and what could happen,” Jennison said. “It’s a lot of fun. It’s a good time to play soccer at St. Charles East.”