Metea Valley had the great chances Tuesday, but Wheaton Academy scored a pair of thrilling goals to capture a 2-0 win in second-round action of the Pepsi Showdown.
The visiting Warriors, a Class 2A program ranked No. 20 in the latest Chicago Sun-Times boys soccer poll, picked up a fourth straight win to improve to 7-1-0 and earn a quarterfinal bid against the winner between Leyden and defending 3A state champion Warren.
The setback leveled the Mustangs’ record at 3-3-2 and produced Metea’s first-ever second-round exit from the Pepsi tournament.
After both sides made the necessary defensive plays to keep the game scoreless, Wheaton finally broke through when Ty Seager fed Sam Hardy just right of center. The Warrior senior cut back to get past a defender and drilled a 21-yarder inside the right post
“On an earlier run, I hit the side netting, so once I faked a shot and got around a defender, I was able to aim my next attempt a lot better and it went in,” Hardy explained.
The back-and-forth attacks continue but Wheaton goalkeeper Drew Sezonov blacked a curving shot by Metea’s Jimmy Kiesel and also raced back to prevent a Chris Freeman try from slipping inside the right post.
In the second half, Sezonov made a huge one-hand block on a Jake Celinski shot and then tipped wide another Freeman blast.
“We knew they had a lot of dangerous players, like No. 10 (Freeman), plus as the game unfolded it was clear they were ready to shoot from all over,” Sezonov said of the shutout.
The Mustangs were threatening again on a corner kick when Warrior defender Matt Ruff’s clearing attempt ignited a breakaway for Casey Zimmerman, who covered almost 60 yards before slipping a ball past Metea goalkeeper Tim Howard for a 2-0 lead with 22:23 left.
“At first their keeper was coming out and I was looking to get around him, but then he kept backing up and I saw an opportunity to put it away,” Zimmerman said of his fifth goal of the year.
“Casey has good speed, he was off to the races, but Ty (Seager) was right there with him,” Wheaton coach Jeff Brooke noted. “We moved the ball around pretty well and getting up 2-0 was crucial. Metea started putting a lot of 1-2 touches together from then on, but we held them off.”
Sezonov made a save during a scramble in front of his net with 16:15 remaining. Then, with 7:51 to play, team goal-scoring leader Freeman had a touch shot sail just over the crossbar.
“Their first goal was a real nice shot and on the second, it was a communication breakdown for us defensively,” Metea coach Josh Robinson said. “We sent too many guys in there and had no one for the counter.
“Between 20 (Seager) and 19 (Reid Culberson), they had some good speed and you have to give them credit for how hard they worked. We actually knocked the ball around well and outpossessed them, but their keeper also made some quality saves.”