Original Article Courtesy of bcrnews.com
SERENA — Princeton High School soccer fans are used to excitement when their Tigers play, when the course of a game can have more twists and turns than a scenic railway.
They were treated to a double dose Friday night at Serena when the Big Blue won the Class 1A Regional Championship in double overtime, defeating the Somonauk Bobcats 3-2 to advance to next Wednesday’s Mendota 1A Sectional.
The first half saw no scoring but many shots at goal by the Tigers, ultimately thwarted by Somonauk junior keeper Nolan Wegener. Bobcat head coach Jonathan Liecthy was proud of his defense. “Nolan is an absolute beast at goal, ” he said. “He saved us so many times out there.”
PHS head coach David Gray agreed. “Their keeper was outstanding,” he said. “Against a lesser keeper this game might not have gone to overtime. Somonauk made it difficult and it was a dogfight all the way to the end.”
The first score of the game came at 47:00 when Juan Robledo made the first of his two goals for the evening with a line drive to the back of the net.
The Bobcats’ responded at 55:00 with a fast break goal by junior Drew Westbrook to even the score at 1-1, which would last to the end of regulation time.
Facing two 10-minute overtime periods, Gray knew he had to keep his team focused. “I’ve seen a lot of overtime soccer where somebody scores early and a team lets that dictate the rest of the overtime,” he said. “My point was we have to play all 20 (minutes) no matter what happens.”
It was Somonauk who scored early in the first OT with another fast break goal courtesy of junior Chris Franzone at 2:53 to give the Bobcats a 2-1 lead.
Fifteen seconds later the Tigers’ Jayden Pinter brought the crowd to its feet with a goal to even up the score again at 2-2. “I saw my chance to get that shot, I felt pretty confident so I just ripped one and got it in the bottom corner, ” he said.
“It was a heck of a shot,” Gray agreed. “One of the things we’ve talked about was when they back off you make your move. He (Pinter) found the ball in the middle of the park, they gave him room and he just ripped it.”
As darkness descended over the pitch, the tension on the field and in the stands grew as the second overtime began. Four minutes into it, Juan Robledo scored his second goal of the evening to give PHS a 3-2 lead that the Tiger defense would hold for the rest of the contest to seal a victory and repeat as regional champion.
The Tigers, now 19-2-4, will face Peoria Christian at 4 p.m. Wednesday in a 1A Sectional semifinal match at Mendota, while Somonauk ends its season at 13-9-2.