SYCAMORE – Time was winding down in a tied game against Kaneland for the Interstate 8 regular-season crown when Alec Garcia fired one of the best shots Sycamore coach Dave Bachta said he has ever seen.
Garcia’s rocket from about 35 yards out found the back of the Kaneland net with 2:27 left in the game, giving the Spartans a 2-1 win over the Knights.
“Everything we asked him to do, he did,” Bachta said. “Great corner kick he took, put the ball in the area to make it dangerous, and it goes in. Then he made one of the top five or 10 shots in high school that I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been doing this for 25 years.”
Garcia, who scored both goals for the Spartans (10-2 overall, 7-0 conference), said he was confident in taking the shot.
“I know I’ve hit those goals before, and I can hit them again and again and again,” Garcia said.
Garcia tied the score with 20:55 left in the second half on a corner kick. He played the ball up, but the wind took it directly into the net for the first Sycamore goal.
“I just tried to give my players a chance on the ball,” Garcia said. “It just went in. The wind took it in.”
Kaneland coach Scott Parillo said the Knights (6-7, 6-1) played too tentatively in the second half.
“We gave up way too many corners in the second half,” Parillo said. “But they fought hard. Super physical game. That’s for sure. Maybe too physical, I don’t know. But that’s the games we’re going to have against Sycamore.”
Kaneland jumped out to an early lead on a goal in the seventh minute by Anthony Buchanan. He sped past the Sycamore defense and scored to make it 1-0.
“We had some kids not commit defensively, and we gave up a goal,” Bachta said. “Kid made a nice run, beat four of our kids, and that was a great goal. But our kids didn’t defensively set themselves up to succeed on that one. They were at bad angles, and they toe-poked, and he scored a great goal.”
The two teams aren’t only in the same sectional this postseason, but are the top two seeds for next week’s I-8 tournament. If both win out, they would meet Saturday at Kaneland.
Parillo said his team has struggled with keeping leads all year.
“We got to go 80 minutes,” Parillo said. “We have, unfortunately, had leads and let it slip away. We have to figure out a way to close out the game. We haven’t done that a couple times this year. That’s the disappointing thing. It’s not the effort. When we have the chance to close a team out, let’s close a team out.”
Garcia said winning the regular-season title felt good.
“I’m glad I could lead my boys to the No. 1 seed in the conference now,” Garcia said.