ST. CHARLES – The St. Charles East boys soccer team made its fans wonder if it was going to be able to advance out of their own regional Friday night against the Rolling Meadows.
After trailing two goals midway through the opening half, the eighth-seeded Mustangs of the IHSA Class 3A Schaumburg Sectional came storming back to even the match by halftime before finally falling to the Saints, 6-2.
The Saints play the winner of Glenbard North-Wheaton North match, which will be played today, in the IHSA Class 3A Schaumburg Sectional semifinals Tuesday in Schaumburg.
“I think they (St. Charles East) did a great job of going up on us 2-0,” Rolling Meadows coach Peter Mikulak said. “But then I think we did a great job of coming back to even the game. St. Charles (East) came out with a lot more intensity and we just kept waiting for that spark that never came. We did not make smart decisions in the back in the second half and it hurt us.”
St. Charles East, who defeated St. Charles North in the regional semifinal, 2-0, to advance to the final, opened the scoring with 33 minutes left in the first half when Taylor Ortiz beat Mustangs goalkeeper Marc Quezada with a right-footed shot from 12 yards out for the 1-0 advantage.
The Saints upped their lead to 2-0 more than ten minutes later when Ortiz sent a crossing pass into the Mustangs penalty area when Zach Manibog advanced the ball into the Mustangs goal for what seemed to be a comfortable lead.
“We are getting on a roll and finishing our scoring chances,” Saints junior Zach Manibog said. “I give them a lot of credit. They were a good team. When they scored their two goals, it really set us back. We just connected better on our passing in the second half and got some of our through balls to work and finished our [scoring] chances better.”
The Mustangs began their climb back into the match when Kou Glaser sent a left-footed shot from 14 yards. out past Saints goalkeeper Chris Lucatorto and into the net with 15:24 remaining in the opening half, which cut the Saints lead in half at 2-1.
Rolling Meadows eventually tied the game at 2 less than one minute later when Enrique Avellaneda let go a hard free kick from 45 yards out, which beat Lucatorto to his left with 14:24 left until half.
“I think hopefully myself and the lads learned tonight you can’t take a half off or 20 minutes off in a match if you want to win,” Saints coach Paul Jennison said. “Rolling Meadows is a quality team and I know they were not happy with their seed. But our crowd gave us a big lift tonight. Our seniors gave us a lift tonight and I was proud of them.
“But out of an 80-minute match, I think we played 25 minutes and we can’t do that and expect to win going forward in this tournament.”
The second half would belong to the Saints, led by Maniborg, who would score two more goals with a right-footed shot from 12 yards out at the 21:12 mark and again at 6:28 to cap off his hat trick, which made it, 4-2.
The Saints’ other two goals came from Jacob Sterling and Jeff Chitwood.