DARIEN – Marmion soccer coach Gerardo Alvarez said the Cadets like to deal in high-powered offensive soccer.
And while it wasn’t on display for a majority of the Cadets’ 2-1 win against Sycamore in the Class 2A Hinsdale South Sectional semifinal, they showed their offense when they needed it.
The Spartans (19-4-2) tied the game at 1 with 11:02 left in the first half when Alec Garcia launched a shot to the left side past Cadets’ goalie Danny Jankowski on a perfect cross from Caden Carl.
Less than 30 seconds later Gio Magana took a feed from Barry O’Neill – who had scored the first Marmion goal in the 23rd minute – and placed a shot on a breakaway in the top right corner out of the reach of goalie Kevin Munoz.
“It’s just a testament, and it shows the character of the group of boys,” Alvarez said. “The matches we played this season have prepared us, not just technically or physically but mentally. And the way we responded after they tied it up is just a testament to the group. It says everything about them.”
Magana and the Cadets (15-7-2) will play in the final, facing a Rockford Boylan team that knocked off Lemont, 2-0, in the other semifinal.
“It feels great,” Magana said. “We get to move on, spend a couple more days with these guys.”
The Spartans have experience this year playing from behind. In the Belvidere regional final they scored three goals in the final 15 minutes in a 3-2 win over the Bucs. But they weren’t able to get the equalizer as their season came to an end.
“I told them we were down one goal, we’ve come back from two goals in 15 minutes,” Bachta said. “This is something that we do. This is something, you guys fight to the end, and we had our chances in the second half.”
The best chance in the second half came when Garica seemingly scored on a rebound off of the goalkeeper, but he was called offsides on the initial shot, keeping the score at 2-1.
“Especially when it comes off a rebound from the keeper, he said he was offsides on the shot,” Bachta said. “If he’s offsides on the shot and it comes off the keeper, then he’s offsides. I can’t argue that. That’s the linesman’s call, and he’s in a better situation than I am to make that call. It’s a tough call ’cause there’s a lot of things going on in the box.”
Bachta said he was proud of what his team accomplished this season, which included a regional crown and an Interstate 8 championship.
“These are great kids, man,” Bachta said. “I tell you what, I’ve been spoiled the past two years. This is a great group of seniors, 13 seniors that are now about to do some great things in life.”
Alvarez said while it wasn’t the prettiest win for his team, pretty wins are hard to come by this time of year.
“We played well in spurts,” Alvarez said. “Every game at this point is just a grind. It’s not necessarily about playing well. If you can play well and win, that’s great. But it’s about getting results, and I thought we grinded, especially in the second half, to hold on to the lead. Defensively, we did a tremendous job.”
O’Neill opened the scoring on a direct kick just outside the box, going over the wall and to the left side of the goal and in.
“Those two goals were really just lapses on our part,” Bachta said. “We gave up a bad foul and overcommitted too much. After that we get back, get a great goal, great pass by Caden, great goal by Alec. Then 30 seconds later, we kind of lost our heads in the middle of the field a little bit, give up a ball we didn’t need to give up, and they scored.”