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Boys Soccer: LW Central tops Reavis on PKs for regional crown

By Steve Millar
Correspondent

Reavis experienced the exhilarating highs and excruciating lows of overtime playoff soccer in the same week during its own IHSA Class 3A regional.

After rallying for a thrilling 3-2 overtime over Thornton co-op in the regional semifinals Oct. 19, the Rams dropped a heartbreaker by the same score to top-seeded Lincoln-Way Central on Oct. 22 in a game decided by a penalty-kick shootout.

Trailing the Knights (17-1-2) 2-1 in the final minute of overtime in the regional championship game, eighth-seeded Reavis (13-3-5) found some magic.

Junior forward Carlos Ramos headed in Emanuel Montero’s corner kick with just 36 seconds left to tie the game and force a shootout.

“Our kids never gave up,” Rams coach Mark Gniadek said. “They just kept battling back and fought until the end.”

In the shootout, senior midfielder Pedro Guzman and Montero scored in the first two rounds for Reavis, but the Rams’ next two shots went off the post and the crossbar, respectively.

The Knights converted on all four of their attempts to win the shootout 4-2.

“A shootout is the most exciting and the most heartbreaking way to finish a game,” Gniadek said. “I’m just proud of our guys for the way they came back. It was a great game from both sides. Lincoln-Way Central is a great team. We battled and gave them all we had.”

Montero gave the Rams a 1-0 lead in the 10th minute, batting the ball in after a scramble in front following a pass into the box from Guzman.

The Knights answered in the 24th minute when Eddie Rafacz scored off a rebound after Reavis goalkeeper Jacob Nosek saved Johnny Roussakis’ initial shot.

The scored stayed the same all the way into overtime until Roussakis scored five minutes into the first extra period.

Nosek made 10 saves for the Rams.

Reavis’ comeback ability was on even greater display in the regional semifinal. The Rams trailed Thornton with under 16 minutes left before rallying.

Guzman started the comeback, taking a long pass from Diego Rodriguez and ripping a shot from 15 yards off the inside of the right post and in to make it 2-1 with 15:05 to go.

Then, after Diego Ochoa drew a foul in the box with 4:29 left, Guzman stepped to the spot for the penalty kick and buried it inside of the left post to tie the game.

“I was super nervous,” Guzman said of the penalty kick. “I knew if I missed it, the game was over. There were only four minutes left. I had to choose a side and stick with it and that’s what I did.”

That sent the game to overtime with Reavis feeling good.

“When we tied it up, I felt it,” Gniadek said. “Being at home helps, having fans here definitely helps. We could definitely feel the momentum.”

Montero delivered the game-winner four minutes into overtime when he curled in a corner kick with a left-footed boot that sent the ball from the right corner inside the left post.

“I was so excited,” Montero said. “We had a good crowd, so it was fun. We felt the momentum going to overtime and we knew we could win it.”

The comeback fell short against Lincoln-Way Central, but Reavis showed its fighting spirit all week.

“Our team doesn’t give up,” Guzman said.

 

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