HUNTLEY – Huntley and Dundee-Crown have developed a knack for playing entertaining soccer games.
The Class 3A Huntley Boys Soccer Sectional semifinal had a little bit of everything, a quick start, a stirring comeback, great shots, big goalkeeper stops and one confusing goal.
Huntley jumped out to big lead in the first half and survived D-C’s valiant effort for a 4-3 victory Wednesday at Red Raider Stadium. The No. 2-seeded Raiders (19-2-2) face No. 4 Elgin at 10 a.m. Saturday for the sectional championship.
“I feel like every game we play against Dundee-Crown is just bananas,” said Red Raiders coach Matt Lewandowski, whose team had a 3-0 lead with 15:14 to go in the first half. “It was crazy the first time we played them this season, a 2-2 tie. It was crazy this time. It’s quickly becoming a new rivalry for us.”
Two boisterous student sections helped with the atmosphere.
“This is one of the craziest games I’ve ever played in for high school,” Huntley forward Austin Killen said. “Especially with all the people that were here. It’s probably the biggest crowd we’ve ever had, and this is the furthest I’ve been in my four years on varsity in the playoffs. It’s pretty exciting.”
Huntley scored 16 minutes into the game when Zach Heitkemper played a long ball and Hayes Porsche outraced two Chargers’ defenders and tapped it over keeper David Smiech.
The Raiders scored again four minutes later off a direct kick that Hudson Nielsen headed to Bryan Kigongo, who knocked it in. Five minutes after that, Thomas Rodriguez blasted a shot from just outside the goal box that Jack Breunig redirected for a 3-0 lead.
“We just had to settle down,” D-C coach Rey Vargas said. “We play a certain style and we got away from that early. It was about regrouping and playing our style and not letting them dictate the game.
“We’ve been down in games before and battled back. I wasn’t panicking yet.”
Vargas thought Fernando Ramirez’s goal with 7:10 left in the half was huge to the comeback. The Chargers (14-4-2) continued to pick up their play in the second half, although Huntley added to its lead first on another unusual play.
A Huntley player kicked a hard shot that the Chargers’ Israel Labrada took to the midsection and fell to the ground. Killen could not believe his good fortune on that play.
“It was pretty much a lucky bounce,” Killen said. “It hit him in the stomach, and it stopped perfectly for me. It wasn’t even rolling. I saw the goalie was off his line a little, so I tried to put it right under the crossbar.”
Killen’s shot was perfect and the Raiders had a 4-1 lead. D-C’s Jason Martinez scored two minutes later and then came the strangest goal of the game.
Huntley keeper Ethan Kornas was confused by an indirect kick call. He thought he was kicking it to the referee, but the ball was live and Miguel Pena booted it right into the goal.
“I thought it was going to be a dropped ball,” Kornas said. “I put it down and was waiting for the ref. The coach and everyone on their bench was yelling that I was wasting time. I was already on a yellow card, so I was going to pass it to the ref and have him come give it to me.
“I was in awe. I lost confidence a little bit, but my teammates were there to pick me up. That’s what really mattered. Everyone on the team was there picking each other up.”
Pena was proud of his team’s ability to come back and make it close.
“We always respond when they score first,” Pena said. “We always keep our heads up. We just had a strong mentality to keep fighting. The coaches always give us a good pep talk at halftime. Get our heads straight and focus on the task at hand.”
Class 3A Huntley Sectional
Huntley 4, Dundee-Crown 3
Dundee-Crown 1 2 – 3
Huntley 3 1 – 4
H–Hayes Porsche (Zach Heitkemper), 24:04.
H–Bryan Kigongo (Hudson Nielsen), 20:24.
H–Jack Breunig (Thomas Rodriguez), 15:14.
DC–Fernando Ramirez, 7:10.
H–Austin Killen, 29:05.
DC–Jason Martinez (Miguel Pena), 27:12.
Goalkeeper saves: David Smiech (DC) 5, Ethan Kornas (H) 8.