Chris Tovar is one of the unsung stars of a senior class that was hardly spectacular in any aspect of the game. He is efficient, smooth and very dangerous in the open field.
One of the top players in the East Suburban Catholic, Tovar has been overshadowed by other top programs. He has done his best to elevate developing Nazareth into a program on the make.
Tovar set up one goal and scored his 29th of the year during a second-half blitz as Nazareth achieved school history by winning its first sectional game with a 3-0 victory over Little Village in a Class 2A Riverside-Brookfield Sectional semifinal victory Wednesday night.
“We’d been in this game before, but this is the first time we’ve ever gotten out to a sectional final,” coach Doug Hunt said. Progress has been incremental. “We can’t compete with Benet and [St.] Viator, but it took us three or four years to win a game in conference.”
A 6-foot forward, Tovar scored has now surpassed his 27-goal junior season.
After a scoreless game for nearly two-thirds of time elapsed, Nazareth (14-7) erupted to put the game away. Freshman Mike Usher put the Roadrunners on the board when he drilled in a rebound of a Tovar miss in the 57th minute. “I just followed Chris,” he said of his fifth goal of the year. “He played a good ball, it rebounded out back to me and I was there to put it away.”
Tovar made another great run in the 65th minute when he buried a tapback for some breathing space. “I just think they started to get tired out there,” Tovar said. “It was a physical game, and we kept the pressure on them.”
In the interim between those goals, Little Village created one of its few scoring opportunities as senior defender Angel Guiterrez nearly buried a free kick about five yards outside the box. The ball curved upward at the point of the goal and just skimmed over the post.
Little Village never seriously threatened again offensively.
Senior Nazareth midfielder Sami Abed ended the scoring by smashing a penalty shot into the left corner in the closing minutes.
Nazareth advances to meet another Public League program, Kennedy, for the sectional final Saturday afternoon.