Miguel Villalobos hadn’t gotten many opportunities to score for T.F. United this season, but the junior kept the faith.
“I haven’t gotten a lot of playing time, but I was dreaming that I would get a chance and I’d score,” he said.
Villalobos’ dream came through in an important moment Wednesday night, helping T.F. United seal a 4-2 victory in a Class 3A Lockport Regional semifinal.
Marist (9-12-1), trailing 3-2, came inches away from drawing even when Christian Cunningham’s header went off the crossbar.
T.F. United (12-9-1) quickly countered as Villalobos got behind the defense and finished with 20:45 to go.
“I saw my opportunity and I yelled for the ball,” Villalobos said. “I didn’t think it was going to go in when I shot it. It was a great feeling.”
Eight seed T.F. United advanced to take on the host and top-seeded Porters in Saturday’s final.
It was a dream start for T.F. United as Jose Sandoval put in a rebound after Reynaldo Porter’s shot was blocked for a 1-0 lead in the third minute.
Alfredo Munoz scored off a free kick in the 20th minute and Porter made it 3-0 five minutes later.
But the RedHawks fought back.
Steve Carroll put in a rebound after David Snooks’ shot off the crossbar with just over a minute left in the first half.
Marist pulled within one on a Grant Kenny goal with 28 minutes remaining in the game before the tide shifted back to T.F. United for good on Villalobos’ goal.
“We’re playing a lot of young players and when we got the early goal, I think it helped with confidence,” T.F. United coach Alejandro Lagunas said.
“It helped them realize ‘Hey, this is possible.’”
Lockport (15-3-2) avoided the sectional’s upset trend – the second, third, fifth and sixth seeds all lost Tuesday – by getting past Homewood-Flossmoor (6-17-1) 4-1 in the opener.
The Porters scored twice in the final 4:34 of the first half to take a 3-0 lead to the break. After Chris Monte made it 2-0, Vinnie Smithwick – who also scored Lockport’s first goal – blasted a free kick from 25 yards out that went off a defender, deflected high into the air and tucked into the net just under the crossbar.
“I was trying to cross it to the near post and it just took a crazy deflection,” Smithwick said. “I’ll take it.”
The Vikings got a goal from Daniel Estelle before Tommy Calderaro hammered home a Tommy Boland cross to give Lockport a 4-1 lead with 33:27 to go.
“We saw all the upsets that were happening in the sectional,” Monte said. “It was a wake-up call. It showed us anything can happen. We came out and played a strong first half.”