CRYSTAL LAKE – Huntley had one shot on goal for the entire game against Crystal Lake South and, ultimately, it was all the Red Raiders needed.
Forward Hayes Porsche set up forward Zach Stocker in the 23rd minute, and Huntley relied on rock-solid defense, backed by goalkeeper Ethan Kornas, the rest of the way.
The Raiders withstood a pressure-filled second half, played mostly on their side of the field, to defeat the Gators, 1-0, Tuesday in a game that decided the Fox Valley Conference boys soccer title.
Huntley (15-2-2, 8-0-1 FVC) tied with Dundee-Crown last week, meaning South (15-3-2, 8-1) could have won the title with a win or a tie. The Raiders would not let that happen.
“It means a lot to us,” Stocker said. “We’re really worked hard. All of us seniors have played together a long time. It shows how hard we worked and good teamwork. We put it all together today.”
Porsche dribbled around two defenders to feed Stocker for the game’s only goal.
“Zach was open right in the middle, and I gave him a through-ball, and he decided to take it,” Porsche said. “We never gave up. We defended a lot and came through with a win. It was awesome.”
Kornas finished with five saves and thwarted many of the Gators’ attacks before they could get a shot. His athleticism and aggressive play, as usual, were key for the Raiders.
“A huge part of that goes unnoticed as a keeper is talking with your defenders and stopping a play before it starts,” Kornas said. “I’ve been doing a lot of that this season. I’ve had a lot of clean sheets, but maybe only six saves a game. It all starts with our defensive core and our defenders dropping back and everyone communicating with each other.”
Huntley coach Matt Lewandowski marvels at watching his keeper, especially on South’s muddy field.
“Ethan’s an absolute madman,” Lewandowski said. “For him to be as mobile as he was today in this environment, the field is so wet. For him to be that mobile and commanding in the box when they’re putting pressure on him, and it’s that slippery, it’s insane.
“It’s just pure athleticism, and bravery, a little bit of stupidity maybe … it takes a special kid, a special mindset to be a keeper and throw your body all over the place.”
South’s best scoring chance came with 11 minutes remaining in the game when defender Dayton Murphy fired away from the left side near the corner of the goal box. Murphy’s shot was just wide of the far post.
“[South] went into crisis mode and the best way to put pressure on is to put the ball in the box,” Lewandowski said. “That’s exactly what they did, and we weathered the storm and came out on top.”
Gators coach Brian Allen appreciated his team’s effort in the second half. It was only the second time South has been shut out, the Gators lost to Rolling Meadows, 1-0, early in the season.
“Give congratulations to Huntley, they did what they needed to do, they’re a tough team and a deserving champ,” Allen said. “In the second half they did what we asked them to at halftime and put pressure on them. The only thing we didn’t do was score.
“I’m anxious to see how they respond to training and get after it. Hopefully we’ll be celebrating a different type of title here in a week-and-a-half and be moving on in the playoffs.”
South is top seed in the Class 2A Vernon Hills Sectional and hosts a regional next week. Huntley is the No. 2 seed in its Class 3A sectional and can play sectional games at home if it wins a regional title next week.
Huntley 1, Crystal Lake South 0
Huntley 1 0 – 1
CL South 0 0 – 0
H–Zach Stocker (Hayes Porsche), 17:00.
Goalkeeper saves: Ethan Kornas (H) 5, Chris Slawek (CLS) 0, Logan Vargas (CLS) 0.