Familiarity is the great organizing principle of Morton’s soccer team. The chemistry and talent perfectly mesh. The Mustangs are not unorthodox or unpredictable. You know what you get when you play them.
The problem is trying to take away its strengths. “Every year we just come together and try our best and somehow it all connects,” senior midfielder Edgar Garcia said.
“It all comes out well for us.”
Garcia scored two goals, and the Mustangs’ elite defender Hector Luna shadowed Wheaton Academy star Ty Seager to perfection as No. 2 Morton earned the impressive 2-0 PepsiCo Showdown semifinal victory over the No. 8 Warriors Saturday at Lyons in LaGrange.
The Mustangs (11-0-2) earned their third consecutive title berth in next week’s final against rival and No. 4 Lyons. Morton has lost the previous two title games, including the 2012 championship against Lyons, 1-0.
Morton defeated Lyons 1-0 in a Class 3A sectional championship last year.
The top-seed of the tournament, Morton defeated Wheaton Academy for the second consecutive year in the semifinal round of the tournament. Wheaton Academy (9-1) trailed for the first time this season in the 37th minute after the centerpiece of the Mustangs’ attack, junior midfielder Leo Delgado executed a sharp cross that Garcia finished.
“I thought their two center-backs [Luna and Diego Lopez] who play one in front of the other in a kind of stop-sweep and their two center midfielders [Garcia and Delgado], all four of them are absolutely brilliant players,” Wheaton Academy coach Jeff Brooke said.
“Those four stood out in my mind in their ability to control the tempo and possession, and then they marked really well,” he said.
Luna is the Mustangs’ top individual defender. Morton coach Mike Caruso assigned him the unenviable task of slowing down Seager, the explosive junior forward who entered the game having already scored 16 goals.
“They’re a quality side, and they know how to play the game the right way,” Caruso said of the Warriors. “I thought we played a good game for the first to the last minute. We finished our opportunities.
“That No. 20 [Seager] is a horse, and he got through our back a couple of times, but I thought Hector did as good a job as you can on a player.”
Luna said his teammates told him if he stopped Seager, Morton’s success level jumped up another notch. “I can tell how good a player is by his first touch, and it was obvious he was really good,” Luna said. “I just focused on him and knew that he was not going to pass, and I had to stop that first touch.”
Garcia has a team-leading 11 goals for the Mustangs. He added an insurance goal in the 68th minute. Morton qualified for the PepsiCo Showfinal for the fourth time in the last five years. “We’re always excited to play Lyons, with their crowd cheering and everybody getting crazy out there,” Garcia said.