If the state tournament is predicated by the wildly unpredictable, Hinsdale Central has survived by doing the same thing over and over.
“Everything is just constant,” senior defender Will McGowen said. “We get the ball down, we pass it through the middle and spring the attacking midfielders and everything just flows.”
In sectional wins over Lyons and Morton and a Class 3A supersectional victory over Naperville North on Tuesday, the Red Devils charted a specific path and stuck with it.
McGowen scored back-to-back game-winners and and 6-3 goalie Wes Bergevin recorded dramatic saves on penalty kicks that have propelled No. 2 Hinsdale Central (17-4-4) one step closer to a state title.
“Every game gets bigger and bigger, so it’s definitely more nerve-wracking,” Bergevin said. “I’m confident in there, because I practice against some of the best shooters in the state every day in the state.”
This weekend the stage shifts to Hoffman Estates for the Class 2A and 3A state finals. The 3A state tournament has been topsy-turvy, the shock is as much who is not there as the final participants. Hinsdale Central will play No. 3 Fremd (19-5-1) in the second semifinal on Friday.
The Vikings have won 11 in a row and gone 18-2-1 since losing three out of four games to start the season. Fremd captured the Mid-Suburban League Cup over last season’s 3A state runner-up Wheeling and have conceded just one goal in five state tournament games.
Fremd defeated the Red Devils 1-0 at a tournament in September.
The Vikings are balanced with 14 different players who have recorded a goal. Their offensive leaders are senior forward Ben Poder (12 goals, four assists) and senior midfielder Zach Schoffstall (six goals, 16 assists). Elite defender, 6-foot Tomas Peleckas, has the size and power disrupt opposing team’s offensive attack.
The other semifinal showcases two relative unknowns. Unheralded No. 5 Streamwood shocked heavy favorite Lake Park on Tuesday to qualify for its first state semifinal against Normal West (22-0-2). The Sabres (17-5-2), who are led by senior forward Alan Camarena (23 goals, 12 assists), must slow Normal West forward Eddie Plesha (37 goals, 18 assists).
In Class 2A, top-ranked Wheaton Academy (23-1-1) aims to reverse its bittersweet fortunes after finishing 0-2 in each of the last two years at the state finals.
The Warriors will play state power Springfield (25-3) in the first semifinal Friday.
Wheaton Academy Junior Ty Seager has validated his Player of the Year campaign with 36 goals and 13 assists. The Warriors’ only loss was against Morton in a PepsiCo Showdown semifinal. “We have the talent and the ability,” Seager said. “Now we have to have the hunger and discipline to get it done.”
St. Joseph (22-0-1) meets former East Suburban Catholic rival St. Viator (19-5-1) in the second Class 2A semifinal. Senior forward Eduardo Gutierrez leads four double-figures scorers for the No. 4 Chargers. Seniors Aidan Williams (19 goals, 11 assists) and Zach Gyuricza (17 goals, 14 assists) power the No. 6 Lions’ attack.