The key moment in Tuesday night’s Class 3A Barrington Supersectional between Streamwood and Lake Park happened quickly and unexpectedly.
Sabres senior forward Blerim Shabani, who scored the first goal of the match, drew a free kick from about 30 yards away from Lake Park’s goal.
Senior forward Alan Camarena was near Shabani when he was fouled in the middle of the field and — with the defense within 10 yards and the Lancers’ goalie preparing to set up a wall as he stood next to the far post — he tried something daring.
He shot the ball.
“I looked at the goalie first,” Camarena said. “I saw he was on the post. I had a wide open shot.”
Camarena’s free kick went into the back of the net to stun Lake Park. It gave the Sabres a two-goal lead with 28 minutes, 14 seconds remaining in the second half, and they were able to hold on to win 2-1.
With the win, Streamwood clinched its first state berth in the history of the school’s boys soccer program. The Sabres will play Normal Community at 5 p.m. on Friday at Hoffman Estates High School in the Class 3A state semifinals.
Making it to state is “a dream come true,” Streamwood senior defender Christian Balbino said. “Ever since my freshman year it’s been my dream, my goal. As a senior, there’s no better feeling.”
The nature of Camarena’s goal was similar to the Sabres’ deep run in the state playoffs this year. Both were unexpected. The belief within the team didn’t waver, however, especially against Lake Park (20-2-4) on Tuesday and in its victory over Rockford Boylan on Saturday that earned the Sabres their first-ever sectional title.
“Many people doubted us,” Balbino said. “Many people asked who we were. We got a lot of comments like those, and it feels good to prove people wrong.”
Streamwood (17-5-2) did so on Tuesday evening by holding on after Camarena’s goal gave them a 2-0 lead. Lake Park cut the lead in half 61 seconds after he scored when junior midfielder Michael Passi’s cross was headed in by senior midfielder Kris Lopez.
The pace was frantic after that. Lake Park pushed forward and threatened to score, while Streamwood got players behind the ball and defended. The Sabres held on, though, as senior goalie Sergio Blanco made a diving save on a header with 14 seconds remaining to punch Streamwood’s ticket to the state semifinals.
“I was like, … ‘Just stay calm and follow the ball,’” Blanco said, of his final save. “I saw that kid’s header going to my left, so I dove to the left and I kept it.”