Somonauk exercises demon in Class A regional win over rival Hinckley-Big Rock

SHARE Somonauk exercises demon in Class A regional win over rival Hinckley-Big Rock

With a goal in each half, some stellar defending, and a little luck, Somonauk exorcised the demon that is long-time Little Ten Conference nemesis Hinckley-Big Rock.

For the third consecutive season the rivals met for a Class A regional trophy after the Bobcats had beaten Hinckley in a regular-season meeting as well as the title game for the annual LTC Tournament. Unlike the two previous years, the Royals didn’t manage a season-ending upset.

With Friday’s 2-0 triumph, Somonauk improves to 20-2-0 and advances to Wednesday’s Mendota Sectional for a 6 pm semifinal against the Peoria Christian Regional victor.

“When we met (Wednesday) for practice (after the regional-opening win), I said just one thing to them, ‘Are you gonna let it happen again?’ They were yelling ‘No way, our time’ and going crazy for this chance,” Somonauk coach Dave Erasmus said. “It’s obviously been the 800-pound gorilla in the room.

“I know 2-0 looks good at the end of the game, but that’s a dangerous lead because if they score, the momentum really swings in their favor. Our backline, Scott (Thomas), Mitch (Westbrook), and Zach (Jump), were the key. Defense is what wins championships, the further you go in a state tourney, the more 2-0, 1-0 or 2-1 scores you see.”

The deadlock of a back-and-forth battle was broken with 13:59 left before halftime when Tommy Skupien rocketed a 21-yard direct free kick into the upper right corner for his 23rd goal of the season.

“It was ironic in that I was thinking it was about the same spot but on the opposite,” Skupien said in recalling the match-winner that gave the Bobcats the LTC Tourney crown in a 1-0 win over Hinckley eight days ago. “Last time their keeper cheated a little toward the wall, so maybe he was guessing I’d go that way again, so when he stepped to his left, the upper right was open.”

Shortly after that goal, Hinckley-Big Rock’s Jeremy Perales had a solid 16-yard blast that Somonauk keeper Danny Humes blocked. Most of the match, Humes was snagging dangerous crosses or loose balls before Royal boots could make contact.

With 21:47 left in regulation, Skupien delivered another laser from the right side which deflected before Josh Schmitt’s header was blocked by Hinckley goalie Jason Bohannon. However, Marcus Alstadt pounced on the rebound for his 11th goal of the year.

“Coach talked about the importance of crashing the net and coming in as an outside mid. I saw the ball with an open net in front of me and just buried it,” Alstadt recalled.

Surviving the Royals’ comeback efforts meant the Bobcats tied a school single-season record for shutouts with 14.

“Just like all the others, I have to give credit to my defenders,” Humes said of his latest clean sheet. “Shutouts are always great for a keeper, but getting one against your rival for a regional trophy, that’s the best.”

Hinckley-Big Rock ends the year with a 15-7-1 record.

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