Boys Soccer: Connor King makes presence felt on the attack, sends St. Charles East past Geneva into sectional final
By Chris Casey
ADDISON – St. Charles East boys soccer coach Vince DiNuzzo wishes he had two Connor Kings.
While King does as good of a job as anyone for the Saints on the defensive end, DiNuzzo thinks his team is best suited when King joins the attack.
King made his presence known on the attack Wednesday night as his goal midway through the second half broke a tie and propelled second-seeded St. Charles East to a 3-2 victory over Geneva in the Class 3A Addison Trail Sectional semifinals.
“He plays a position that doesn’t really score a lot,” DiNuzzo said. “In this game, and the way [Geneva] plays… credit to [Geneva coach Jason Bhatta] because he got the most out of that group of kids. They made it difficult for us. Connor played a little more forward that he would in other games, but we like when he gets forward because it creates more opportunities for us.”
Sophomore Logan Lewarchick gave the Saints (18-4-0) a 3-1 advantage just four minutes after King’s goal, heading in a deflected header from Josh Ruiz.
While the Saints got a boost from a defender in a big way Wednesday, it was Geneva (9-8-5) who got on the board first thanks to one of its own defenders.
Braeden McPheron was in the right place at the right time to tap in a rebound off of the post to give the No 11-seeded Vikings the lead after just seven minutes of play.
That lead lasted for all of 1:19 as Sebastian Carranza quickly equalized, getting behind the Geneva defense to beat goalkeeper Hayden Vostal. The game stayed goalless until King’s go-ahead tally.
“I’ve been able to do that a decent amount this season,” King said of his presence on the St. Charles East attack. “It’s honestly just rinse and repeat at that point…they got us on our heels at the beginning and we knew we had to come back.
“[Sebastian’s goal] was so important because it got us right back in the game. It’s hard conceding a goal real quick in a big game, but it felt amazing to get that one. We knew that we needed to do more work than just put one in and we kept working.”
For Geneva, Bhatta was thrilled at his team’s start to the game, as well as its fight to get back within a goal late on an Aiden Leonard penalty kick – but knew the challenge his team was up against.
While losing 3-0 in the only meeting with the DuKane Conference champion Saints during the regular season, Bhatta thought his team played a more competitive game but gave St. Charles East a few too many chances.
“You can’t give a team like [St. Charles East] the chances we did,” Bhatta said. “Sebastian is going to put chances like that away every time. I thought we played them much better this time around. To end the season [before tonight] with a nine-game unbeaten streak with only two goals against was special, but when you give a good team quality chances, you’re going to get punished. But, I couldn’t be more proud of this group and the way they fought until the very end.”
Vostal finished the night with four saves while St. Charles East goalkeeper Jordan Rolon stopped two shots in the win for St. Charles East, who will take on top-seeded York Friday in search of its first sectional title since the 2012-13 season.