Postseason reality means that when two magical runs collide, only one can continue.
Lake Park continued its historic run on Tuesday with 2-0 victory over Larkin in the Class 3A Bartlett Supersectional adding to its single-season record for victories.
The Lancers (21-2-3) advanced to Friday’s state semifinal against Wheeling.
Despite dominating play in the first half, Lake Park still found itself in a scoreless draw and had to withstand a strong second-half start by the Royals. But with 13:40 left in the match, IHSSCA All-State senior Mike Catalano received a direct free kick and his blast was blocked by Larkin goalie Aldair Dominguez only to have Giovanni Ciaccio head home the rebound from five yards out.
“It was a great shot and my first reaction was to just punch it out, unfortunately one of their guys was right there to get to it,” Dominguez said.
“Mike had some great shots before and the keeper didn’t make clean saves, so I just tried to crash the box,” explained Ciaccio, who was playing in only his second game since coming back from an injury, but collectged his seventh strike of the year.
With 5:08 remaining, Castellano dribbled by a defender for a one-on-one with the keeper and slotted a 12-yarder from the right wing to put the win on ice.
“My goal is always to put it on frame with as much pace as possible. Thankfully ‘‘Gio” was right there for the first one. And the second one was just a matter of beating the keeper,” said Castellano, who now has scored 29 goals this season.
It was the third consecutive shutout victory for Lake Park and senior goalie Steven Mack.
The loss follows Larkin’s first sectional championship after having lost that particular contest in seven previous tries.
“We won our first sectional and played with them (Lake Park) minute for minute. To me it’s a 1-0 loss, because the second one came when we were pushing forward to get an equalizer,” Larkin coach Ken Hall said. “We played hard and I thought we did an excellent job considering their size and speed, so I’m real proud of our guys. We definitely had some (scoring) opportunities, we just didn’t get them on frame.”