Illinois Lutheran tunes up for playoffs, defeats shorthanded Tinley Park

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With the Class 1A playoffs beginning next week, Illinois Lutheran’s final preparations this week include meetings with a pair of 2A teams, Tinley Park and Oak Forest.

“We’re trying to clean up some things,” Chargers coach Andy Biesterfeld said. “We’ve got some injuries and we’re trying to get the new guys in the lineup more experience and get them used to playing in big games. We wanted to work on some set pieces and just make sure we get back to playing how we were playing when we were at our peak this season.”

Biesterfeld was happy with what he saw Monday as the visiting Chargers cruised to a 3-0 win over a shorthanded Tinley Park squad.

Illinois Lutheran (19-2) improved on a 2-1 victory over the Titans (5-13) when the teams met Sept. 23 in a Rivals Cup game.

Justin Schmidtke, who earlier in the season became the school’s all-time leader in career goals, got Illinois Lutheran on the board quickly.

In the third minute, Luke Egeler sent a pass ahead to Schmidtke, who got behind the defense and finished for his 40th goal of the season.

“It was a good set up by my teammates and I’ve been working a lot on finishing lately,” Schmidtke said. “I’ve been working on just picking a corner (of the net) and going for it and that’s what I did.”

Tinley Park, which was missing eight players due to injury, hung tough and kept the Chargers off the scoreboard for the next 59-plus minutes before allowing an own goal with 17:08 left in the game.

Nate Yazdani added the third goal for Illinois Lutheran off a Cameron Borns cross.

“I feel pretty good about the way we played considering all the guys we had out,” Tinley Park coach Mike Boniface said. “I saw some flashes of good things for our future and that’s exciting. We just need to get healthy.”

Tinley Park goalkeeper Gio Mendoza made six saves. The Titans’ best chances to score came when Gerardo Ruiz fired high on a pair of shots late in the second half.

Illinois Lutheran’s back line of Jake Volkman, Austin Blumenthal and Matt Egeler held Tinley Park without a shot on goal.

The Chargers are the No. 1 seed in the Manteno Regional and opens the postseason Oct. 14.

“We’re excited,” Volkman said. “We’re ready to go and we really want to win our first regional title.”

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