ST. CHARLES – The St. Charles East boys soccer team left no doubt in anyone’s mind Thursday afternoon it was going to advance to the championship match of its own tournament.
The Saints only allowed two shots on goal in the opening 40 minutes and scored two goals within the first 20 minutes of play on their way to a 4-1 win against Marmion in the final round of pool play. The win put the Saints into the title match of the St. Charles East Tournament against Upstate Eight rival Streamwood at noon Saturday.
Streamwood defeated Glenbard North, 1-0, to advance to the tournament final.
“I think our center-mids and our center-back really distributed the ball well up front to our forwards tonight,” Saints senior midfielder Andrew Shone said. “I think we really moved the ball well tonight. The last couple of games we have been trying to start out each game strong and get an early lead. We did that well tonight.”
The Saints took a 1-0 lead just less than two minutes into the match when senior forward Daniel DiLeonardi sent a right-footed shot past Cadets goalkeeper Matthew Fletcher (six saves) from about 6 yards out for the early lead. The Saints’ lead grew to 2-0 with 20:10 left in the half when Shone took a through-ball pass and from about 12 yards out sent a right-footed shot past Fletcher, into the Marmion net.
“Being aggressive on offense when we have the ball was key for us tonight,” Shone said. “We were communicating well on offense tonight and making runs towards the net looking for that chance to score.”
Those chances to score would come again in the second half, but not before a scary moment. The match was stopped for a little more than 15 minutes with 21:45 left in regulation time when East senior goalkeeper Mike Novotny collided with Marmion senior Flynn Collins at the top of the Saints’ penalty area.
Both players were down for a period of time, leaving Novotny hobbling off the field with an injured leg and Collins being taken away in an ambulance to Delnor Community Hospital. Cadets coach Ricky Del Toro said Thursday night Collins’ jaw was broken in two places and he is out for the season.
Collins had 15 goals this season for Marmion, including a pair of hat tricks.
“It is a huge loss for us,” Del Toro said. “We weren’t sure if it was knee-to-face or shin-to-face, but it was a collision on the ground going for a loose ball.”
Once play resumed, the Saints (10-0-2) upped their lead to 3-0 with 18:42 remaining when sophomore midfielder Evan DiLeonardi put the ball into the Marmion net from point-blank range. Shone scored his second of the nightat the 18:01 mark for the 4-0 advantage.
The Cadets spoiled the shutout bid by the Saints when Marmion forward Landon Meyer scored with 8:45 remaining to make it 4-1. Still, it was an anticlimactic end to a much-anticipated matchup.
“I think once that collision happened in the second half, it kind of took the luster and fun out of the game,” Saints coach Paul Jennison said. “The safety of the kids is paramount in this game. I hope their player will be OK soon.”