Fabian Sustaita had only scored one goal through nearly three complete seasons at Andrew. He picked quite the time Saturday to produce his second.
Sustaita took a pass from Jesus Mendez and buried a high shot with 14:05 left in the Class 3A Eisenhower Regional final, giving the Thunderbolts some cushion in what had been a tight affair with Lincoln-Way East.
Sustaita’s goal made it 2-0 with 14:05 left in the game and Andrew went on to a 4-1 win in Blue Island.
“I just saw the ball coming and decided to rip it,” Sustaita said. “The crowd just lifted me up after that. I was flying after that goal. It felt amazing.”
It’s the first regional title since 2008 for Andrew (10-8-2), which advanced to take on Thornton Co-op in Tuesday’s Sandburg Sectional semifinals. The No. 11 seed T-Bolts knocked off No. 6 Eisenhower in overtime before taking out fellow Cinderella Lincoln-Way East (5-15), the No. 14 seed.
“I really wanted some hardware,” Sustaita said. “I’ve been dying to get my hands on a plaque or something. Now we’ve got it.”
Sustaita helped set up Andrew’s first goal, chipping a pass ahead to Mendez who had his initial shot stopped by East goalie Luke Powell but got his own rebound and put it in with 38 seconds left in the first half.
“I just saw the opportunity and took it,” Mendez said. “This is an unforgettable win for us. It’s hard to describe what it means to us.”
Andrew’s back line of Nick Chase, Sean McLaughlin, Dakota Stariha and Ryan Vranicar kept the Griffins’ offense in check to protect the one-goal lead until the late surge from the offense.
East did have two golden opportunities to tie it in the second half. Liam Elsden blasted a free kick from 35 yards on net that Andrew goalie Tyler Muller was able to punch away.
Moments later, off the ensuing corner kick, Matt Kulpinski cleared Elsden’s shot off the goal line.
After Sustaita’s goal gave Andrew some breathing room and forced East into desperation mode, the T-Bolts got two late goals from Jonathan Sustaita and Blake VanBruggen.
Blake Tempel broke the shutout for East, scoring on a penalty kick with 2:55 to go.
Andrew now has a rematch with a Thornton Co-op team it beat 1-0 on Oct. 11.
“They’re a really good team,” Fabian Sustaita said. “Amazingly good. Last time we played them we got a goal on a penalty and shut them down. Hopefully we can do it again.”