Two early goals propelled Streamwood to keep its own Class 3A regional plaque with a 2-0 victory over a Larkin squad that was hoping for another Cinderella run.
Just like last year, Larkin entered the post-season with a sub-.500 record but knocked out a higher-seeded Dundee-Crown, but that’s where the similarity ended for the Royals (8-11-5).
The host Sabres (14-5-2) scored early and then made their 2-0 halftime lead stand up for a second regional trophy in three years.
“Last year we had a lot of talented players and got upset and people were asking, ‘What are you going to do next year?’ Well I think we answered that,” Streamwood coach Matt Polovin said. “Even with five freshmen, moving on and with two shutouts, this is pretty amazing.”
A month ago, the two teams battled to a 0-0 deadlock, but there was only 4:03 gone when Streamwood took the lead thanks to an Edwin Rueda assist leading to Jasminko Dizdarevic’s five-yard finish near the right post.
“That first goal was really important to give us a boost. Last time we hit the posts three times and missed some breakaways,” Dizdarevic said of his fifth goal. “Two years ago as a freshman I watched them win a regiional and wanted to be a part of it. Those of us back from last year’s (early exit) worked hard all summer to make sure we would go further.”
Rueda tacked on his fifth assist for the year with a corner kick 13:12 prior to halftime by setting up Rafael Gil for a left-footed 12-yard volley off a bounce. The freshman’s fifth goal was crucial, according to Polovin.
“Scoring early set them back on their heels, but that second one really took the wind out of their sails,” Polovin said.
“it was pretty much our game after that goal,” Gil agreed. “I saw the ball and even though I was a little off balance, I was able to blast it enough that I don’t the keeper even got to move.”
Larkin’s movement with or without the ball left veteran Royals coach Ken Hall shrugging.
“We came in ready to play but for whatever reason our quality just wasn’t good enough,” Hall said. “We didn’t pass particularly well, actually we didn’t do a lot of things well enough. We certainly didn’t play the wind well in the first half. That happens sometimes; some days are just not your day. You can’t have a bad game when you’re playing a team of that quality.”
Larkin was hoping to claim a ninth regional in the past 11 seasons and perhaps even get an encore to last year, which saw the Royals gain a first-ever sectional title. Eventual fourth-place finisher Lake Park won the superSectional meeting with Larkin, which ended that season at 12-11-4.
Streamwood advances to the Class 3A DeKalb Sectional and a 7 p.m. Wednesday semifinal against the winner of the Huntley Regional, either the host Red Raiders or Rockford Jefferson.