Steve Millar’s boys soccer notebook

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Marian Catholic knew the program’s first regional title since 2008 wasn’t going to come easily.

Taking on a Providence team they already had beaten twice this season, the Spartans were pushed to the limit the third time around.

The Celtics rallied to force overtime, then took the lead 3-2 in the second extra session before Marian answered.

“We moved one of our best players, Cody Rodas, from defense to mid(field) with about five minutes left and he ended up scoring the tying goal,” Marian coach Nasser Shahtaji said. “It was one of the prettiest goals we’ve scored all season.”

Marian won the penalty-kick shootout 3-0 to advance to the Class 2A Lincoln-Way West Sectional semifinals.

“It could have gone either way,” Shahtaji said of the regional final. “Providence played as good a game as us and were just as deserving, but we pulled it out. It was very exciting.

“I’m very happy for the kids to have something to show for their hard work this season.”

Marian got goals from Alec Guarino and Carlo Falcioni in addition to the Rodas score. Guarino also scored four times in the team’s regional semifinal win over Oak Forest.

The win over Providence was the 16th of the season, tying a program record. Guarino has also made history, scoring a school record 33 goals.

A great eight

Eight Southland players were named All-State by the Illinois High School Soccer Coaches Association.

Lincoln-Way Central was the only local school with two players selected. Forwards Jacob Lysik and Tyler Massa both were honored.

Also chosen All-State were Eisenhower midfielder Francisco Avila, Mount Carmel midfielder Chris Johnson, St. Laurence forward Mike McLaughlin, Illinois Lutheran forward Justin Schmidtke, Lemont midfielder Teodor Trifunovski and Andrew midfielder Blake Van Bruggen.

Avila, a junior, is the only non-senior among the group.

Chaos abounds

Upsets were the theme as the playoffs opened last week, especially in the Class 3A Sandburg Sectional.

Four of the sectional’s top six seeds — No. 2 Sandburg, No. 3 Lincoln-Way Central, No. 5 Lincoln-Way North and No. 6 Eisenhower — all went down in the regional semifinals. No. 5 Bloom joined them in the regional finals.

Twelfth-seeded Stagg was the biggest giant-killer, taking out Lincoln-Way North and Bloom. Top seed Lockport did manage to buck the trend and win a regional title.

“Seeing all the upsets going on got our attention,” Lockport’s Vinnie Smithwick said. “It helped us realize we had to be ready to play because we didn’t want that to happen to us.”

Crete-Monee pulled the biggest upset in Class 2A, the seventh-seeded Warriors taking out No. 2 Bremen.

Player of the Week

Erick Estrada, of Stagg, is the SouthtownStar Boys Soccer Player of the Week.

Estrada, a senior goalkeeper, recorded shutouts in each game, both 1-0 wins, as the Chargers knocked out Lincoln-Way North and Bloom to win the Class 3A Lincoln-Way North Regional title.

He made a pair of key saves in the penalty-kick shootout victory over Bloom.

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