Junior Nick Roe’s third varsity season with the Benet Academy boys soccer team has come with the added responsibility of restart kicks.
“Usually I take the deeper ones, maybe swing a ball in for a cross,” Roe said. “It’s usually me or [senior Nico Picha]. We kind of alternate sometimes.”
Roe’s first goal off a restart came at the perfect time Tuesday.
His straight-on, 24-yard blast into the upper right corner of the net with 3:35 remaining lifted the Redwings to a 1-0 victory over Morton in the rainy Class 3A Hinsdale Central Sectional semifinals.
Benet (15-4-1), the No. 3 seed, plays for the sectional title at 6 p.m. Friday against No. 4 Hinsdale Central (16-4-1), which beat top-seeded Lyons Township 2-0. Both teams avenged regular-season losses and are seeking their first sectional titles since state championship seasons – the Redwings in 2019 as a 2A school and the Red Devils in 2014.
Picha is the lone remaining player from the Redwings’ championship team.
“We believe that we can fill that gap, make the jump [to 3A] and win games like this,” Benet coach Sean Wesley said. “I said before the game I was going to be really proud of this season regardless of the result because it’s such a good group and we have a lot of talent and we really maximize what we have, which you have to do when you’re a small school.”
No. 2 Morton (20-3), fourth in 3A last year and second in 2019, was riding an 11-game winning streak with 17 shutouts on the season. Roe’s sixth goal was only the ninth scored on Morton the whole season.
“That’s pretty much what I was trying to do [on the free kick]. That top corner, I’ll take it,” Roe said. “Once we got a few chances, I thought we got our confidence up. It was great.”
Morton led 14-11 in shots but Benet led 8-4 in shots on goal. Benet’s Jack Kuelthau nearly scored with 32 minutes left and Morton goalie Brandon Flores made a great save on Ryan Augustyn’s header off a Roe corner kick.
In the 14th minute, Morton’s Deyair Ruiz took a pass from Ismael Zepeda and blasted a shot wide. Zepeda nearly tied the game in the final two minutes off Joshua Trujillo’s cross.
“We knew we were giving them a few too many set pieces. Eventually that’s going to catch up to us,” Morton coach Jim Bageanis said. “[Roe] hit a perfect ball. It’s no one’s fault. We just got beat with a good shot. I told the kids there’s nothing to be ashamed of. We had chances at the end. That’s the way it goes, especially playing in these kind of conditions.”
Hinsdale Central limited Lyons (15-6-3) to two shots on goal and four overall. For the seniors, the victory over their rivals was especially sweet.
“For the senior class, it’s our first time beating them. We won the one that mattered,” Hinsdale Central senior defender Greg Theotikos said.
Sophomore Austen Szurgot scored with 23:46 left in the first half. Theotikos’ long sidelines throw-in caromed out to the wide-open Szurgot 23 yards out.
“I was just patiently at the top of the key and it just deflected to me,” Szurgot said. “I got a lucky deflection and that gave us the momentum for the rest of the game.”
Luca Davis added a late rebound goal with 6:35 left after Lyons goalie Connor Schmitt dove to stop Braden Henry’s shot. The Red Devils had lost to the Lions 5-2 Sept. 20 after scoring first and then lost two more games. They have since won nine straight.
Lyons played the latter half of the season without Collin Sullivan, one of its best players and defenders. Danny Svelnis, another defensive regular, also was unable to play Tuesday.
“We didn’t take many shots. Their keeper [Martin Contreras] made two gigantic saves in the first 15, 20 minutes. That kind of set the tone and then we didn’t really generate any offense,” Lyons coach Paul Labbato said. “I’m proud of our team and how hard we worked. Don’t take anything away from Hinsdale. They had a great game plan and won every ball in the air. That’s going to win these kinds of games in the playoffs.”