Trailing 1-0 at halftime Wednesday and trying to clinch the South Suburban Red title outright, it was time for Eisenhower to get a bit greedy.
“I told the boys that I always want them to be humble and sincere and nice kids, but that this was a good time to be selfish,” Eisenhower coach Iran Rodriguez said. “We didn’t want to share this with anyone.”
The Cardinals made sure the crown would be theirs alone, scoring three times in less than seven minutes early in the second half and holding on for a 3-2 win over Reavis in Blue Island.
“[Reavis] beat us in regionals last year and ended our season, so it was great to win against them,” Eisenhower’s Francisco Avila said. “It feels great to win the conference and do it for our seniors on Senior Night.”
Eisenhower (14-6, 9-2) got the equalizer with 30:36 left in the game as Gabriel Esparza sent a pass to David Perez, who buried his shot inside the left post.
“I saw [Esparza] going and I checked to him,” Perez said. “I just looked up for the ball, got it and took the shot.”
Esparza and Perez were in on the action again when the Cardinals took the lead less than three minutes later as Esparza found Perez, who sent a shot that was rolling slowly towards the goal when Avila came charging in from the opposite side and hammered it home.
“I went in and I knew they wouldn’t be able to kick it out of there hard so I just got there and knocked it in,” Avila said.
Matthew Bahena scored off an Avila pass with 23:55 to go and, just like that, Reavis (13-8, 7-4) was down two.
“We made a few mistakes on the back line and they’re a great team,” Reavis coach Bob Morack said. “They got momentum and (Avila) tore us up in the second half. This hurts for our kids because they wanted this bad, but we fought until the last minute. Unfortunately, we lost the fight.”
The Rams, who took a 1-0 lead in the ninth minute when Brian Lopez’ free kick was headed in by a defender, made things interesting late.
Slawomir Chrobak headed home a Matt Mulica cross off a corner kick to make it 3-2 with 1:52 to go, but Reavis could not score again.
“We came out in the second half and just played more aggressive,” Rodriguez said. “We kept the ball on the ground and played some simple through balls and we capitalized on them. It was a great win for us.”