Huskies edged by Scouts in 2OT in regional finals
By Jonah Rosenblum
At times, Lake Forest appeared to have its hands full against Hersey in Saturday's regional championship on its own field.
However, the fifth-seeded Scouts were able to emerge with a 2-1 overtime victory over the fourth-ssed Huskies to secure the Class 3A Lake Forest Regional title.
Particularly as the game careened toward extra time, a loud Scouts contingent in the stands helped the North Suburban Conference Lake champions through what had turned into a marathon on the field.
"It was huge," sophomore midfielder Keegan Kullby said. "We don't always pull that many fans for our games so to have this many fans in our student section was fantastic. We had a lot of energy and it showed in the way that we were motivated to play today."
The Scouts will next meet Barrington, which won its regional 2-0 over Libertyville, on Tuesday at 4:30 pm in the Mundelein Sectional semifinals.
That's in spite of the Huskies out-shooting them, 19-9, including a 10-2 advantage in the second half.
Twice, Lake Forest (14-6-1) responded to a period of control by Hersey (14-4-3) with a quick strike down the middle of the field for a goal.
"We haven't given up a through ball all year and we gave up two today," said Huskies coach Darren Llewellyn, whose team was seeking its first regional title since 2006.
The second half was bereft of opportunities to begin as both teams played fairly evenly.
Toward the end of the period, however, Lake Forest's inability to clear the ball led to a flurry of Hersey chances.
In the 63rd minute, senior midfielder and All-Stater John Cappuccitti put a free kick directly on net that Brogan O'Connor seemed to have trouble seeing, diving to deflect it at the last second.
Perhaps noting the junior keeper's difficulty with that ball, the Huskies began taking quicker shots.
In the 69th minute, junior midfielder Tim Griffin fought through a series of tackles on the baseline and his cross deflected to Cappuccitti, whose seemingly open shot was blocked.
Senior defender Alex Mueller came up with the best chance of the second half, when with 3:45 remaining, he headed a corner that Lake Forest senior defender Henry Levy cleared off the goal line.
"That was the game right there," Kullby said. "Thankfully, Henry was there to knock it off the post."
Mueller followed by sending the ricochet just wide of the net. Hersey would have one last shot in regulation off a deep throw but the Huskies' buzzer-beating kick went right to O'Connor.
"We were giving them a lot of throw-ins deep in the corner and they have that guy with the long throw and he was able to throw them real far to the back post," Kullby said.
After all of Hersey's forays into Lake Forest territory, it was the Scouts who emerged with the decisive goal in the sixth minute of overtime.
Junior forward John O'Connor took a lob down the field and sent a ball to the right post that senior forward Robert Schyns was able to tap in.
The Huskies managed a few last shots in the game's remaining minutes, including a header that went off the field goal crossbar just above the net, but came up empty.
"You were looking up at the clock and only five seconds have gone by," Kullby said. "The second overtime, they had the wind and they were keeping it in our half and we were just defending for our lives."
Hersey's extended period of strong play and Lake Forest's counter was similar to the first half, when Cappuccitti stole the ball in the eighth minute and wove around two defenders on a fast break, pushing the ball above the keeper's head to give the Huskies a 1-0 lead.
The Huskies harangued the Scouts for most of the early part of the first half, forcing the hosts to be precise with their passes through persistent pressure on the offensive end. The Scouts struggled to clear, trapped for the most part within their 30-yard line.
Hersey nearly doubled its lead on a 19th-minute corner kick, as senior midfielder Michael Kaczor headed the ball to Griffin, whose shot was scooped up by O'Connor.
"We had times where we pressured, pressured and created chances, but for some reason, we just didn't find that final touch," Llewellyn said. "That's soccer."
Toward the end of the half, the Scouts began to reverse course, putting shots on the Huskies.
"At first, we were just trying to play kickball and just kind of kick it to our wings but then we got some play through the midfield and then we could distribute it wide and that really helped spread them out and then we got holes in the middle and that's how we scored our first goal," senior midfielder Jack Duffy said.
They finally hit paydirt with 3:49 remaining in the stanza, as Duffy found John O'Connor, who slotted it past Hersey junior keeper Cristian Carranza's sliding challenge.
"I saw Robert (Schyns) open so I played a give and go with him and I just looked up and John was right there so I just played it to him and he had a great finish," Duffy said.