Boys Soccer: Lockport blanks Shepard
By Matt Le Cren For Sun-Times Media October 23, 2013 11:08PM
Lockport wasn’t exactly comfortable playing with a one-goal lead in the second half of Wednesday’s Class 3A Bolingbrook Regional semifinal.
Then Nate Stojak and Jack Dilgert put the top-seeded Porters at ease, teaming up to score a beautiful and oh-so important insurance goal with 14:09 remaining that put the finishing touch on a 2-0 victory over No. 15 seed Shepard.
“When you’re up 1-0 it’s kind of scary,” Lockport coach Chris Beal said. “That second goal was very important, and I think we’ve been struggling in that little phase of play to establish ourselves and get momentum.
“So it was nice that we could play that one big ball in the middle and obviously Jack gets on the end of and a great header goal. It was a very nice play.”
Stojak had the ball far out on the left wing about 35 yards from the net when he lofted a high cross that traveled about 40 yards in the air. Dilgert ran to it in the right side of the penalty area and sent a power header into upper left corner.
“I saw (Stojak) turn with the ball and he looked up and he sent it right over,” Stojak said. “Then I ran right onto it and I saw the goalie commit and I put it back post where it came from.”
That type of play is often practiced but rarely executed as well as the Porters did it.
“We work on it in practice,” Dilgert said. “We work on crossing it over the first defender and putting it back to the post where it came from. That’s what we did tonight.”
Dilgert had assisted on the game’s other goal, tapping a short pass to midfielder Dan Michalik, whose 19-yard roller inside the right post gave Lockport a 1-0 lead at the 10:25 mark of an otherwise uneventful first half.
The Porters (16-4-3) controlled much of the possession but managed only nine shots as the Astros (10-8-1) played tough defense. Shepard never really threatened, mustering four shots and forcing goalie Greg Zieba to make only one save, but the Porters were nervous until Dilgert’s strike.
“(The goal) was a little insurance and it allowed us to sit back a little bit and play,” Dilgert said, “and try to get the ball on the ground and start playing our game.”
While the Porters know they will have to play better to make a deep run, ultimately the playoffs are just about moving on.
“You’ve got to get the job done, there’s no doubt,” Beal said. “I thought at times we possessed the ball. I think at times we also struggled a little bit.
“We put the ball in the air a little too much, more than I would have liked. When we put the ball on the ground we moved it around with speed and I thought we looked good.”
Lockport will take on No. 8 seed Marist in Saturday’s regional title game. Marist edged host Bolingbrook 1-0 on a first-half goal from defender Joe Panella. It was Panella’s fourth goal of the season and first game-winner of his career.
“It feels great,” Panella said. “I’ve been missing those all season and I finally got one. It felt good.”
It was a case of the third time being the charm for Panella, who hit the right post with a 5-yard shot and then saw Raiders goalie Brandon Murillo save the rebound around the post.
Eddie Cunningham served the ensuing corner kick over the defense to Panella on the back post. Murillo got a piece of Panella’s short shot but couldn’t stop it with 13:26 left in the opening period.
“It was perfect,” Panella said of the corner. “It was right where I usually go and no one was really marking me, so I just kind of went up and tried to direct it towards the goal and it happened to go in.”
Panella and the rest of the Marist defense made the goal stand up even though Bolingbrook (12-11) outshot the RedHawks (14-6-2) 10-1 in the second half. Goalie Noah Kemp made six saves to record the shutout.