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Wheaton Academy boys soccer advances to semifinals

DeKALB – Revenge and a return trip to the IHSA Boys Soccer Class 2A state semifinals, all rolled into one for Wheaton Academy.

The Warriors accomplished both with Tuesday’s 2-0 win against Peoria Notre Dame in the DeKalb
Supersectional. Notre Dame knocked Wheaton Academy off in a penalty kick shootout in last year’s state semifinals.

“It’s a blast,” Warriors forward Ty Seager said. “PND has won [three of the past five] tournament championships. We lost to them last year, and we wanted another go. I had a gut feeling we could do it this year.”

The win advances the Warriors to an 11 a.m. state semifinal Friday against St. Ignatius at Hoffman Estates, the new venue for the Final Four this season.

Seager scored an insurance goal in the final minute, but Wheaton Academy (22-3-1) nursed a 1-0 lead almost the entire match, despite a handful of close brushes with a second goal.

That included a slow, rolling shot that Seager said he barely got a toe on that nicked off the post early in the second half with Notre Dame goalkeeper Justin Buck out of the play.

“It was pretty frustrating because that’s a goal that would totally change it, put you up by a decent margin and give us a little breathing room,” Seager said. “But we just pushed through and our defense kept us in the game. It wasn’t that tragic because our defense is so good.”

Wheaton Academy scored less than seven minutes into the match after Sam Hardy was shoved from behind in the box, drawing a penalty kick.

Senior defender Marshall West – who said he has converted a handful of penalty kicks on the season without missing – buried the attempt to the left of Buck.

“I remember that we played them last year so I know the goalie knows a lot of our PKs,” West said. “I kind of change it up every now and then.”

While Buck was part of last year’s Notre Dame-Wheaton Academy state theatrics, Warriors goalkeeper Drew Sezonov was not in the teams’ 2012 showdown as the graduated Spencer Graf manned the net for Wheaton Academy last year.

On Tuesday, Sezonov wasn’t tested much, but he made a dynamite stop late in the first half to keep the Warriors in the lead.

“Some people might forget it, but what a save. … It was just a reaction save, and obviously that was just huge,” Wheaton Academy coach Jeff Brooke said. “You ask your GK to make all the saves that he should, plus one, and he did it tonight, and that’s moving us on.”

Notre Dame coach Mike Bare’s team ends its season with a 17-6-4 record.

“[Wheaton Academy] got a lot of chances there that we just had to kind of scramble to stay in the game,” Bare said. “We stayed in the game until the very end. Just unfortunately, we couldn’t put one away.”

The Warriors prevailed despite some tough recent medical breaks. Starting winger Reid Culberson was unavailable after injuring his ankle in Friday’s regional final triumph against Burlington Central, while midfielder Michael Carver hobbled off early in the second half Tuesday with a hamstring injury.

Brooke said Culberson’s status for Friday’s semifinal is uncertain.

IHSA Class 2A Boys Soccer Final Four

At Hoffman Estates

Friday’s state semifinals

Wheaton Academy vs. St. Ignatius, 11 a.m.

Chicago Washington vs. Rochester, 1 p.m.

Third-place game, 11 a.m. Saturday

Championship game, 1 p.m. Saturday

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