Despite a wildly different location, Sunday’s Little Ten Conference showdown was still a case of déjà vu — the good kind for Somonauk and the unwelcome type for Hinckley-Big Rock.
Somonauk scored early en route to a 4-0 shutout between the two undefeated programs atToyota Park, the Chicago Fire’s home stadium that could house the schools’ combined populations four times over. Unfortunately for Hinckley-Big Rock it was too reminiscent of last year’s first meeting, and to an extent the second and third as well.
Somonauk’s Jacob Kenyon spotted teammate Tommy Skupien breaking into open space after the whistle start and the senior bombed a 21-yarder inside the left post to give the Bobcats (13-0, 4-0) their first goal. Just 15 seconds into the match made it the stadium record for fastest goal in a high school match at Toyota Park. The stadium began hosting prep boys games in the fall of 2013 and girls events for the first time last spring.
Last year, Skupien scored 3:16 into a 5-0 for Somonauk win. The Bobcats also edged their long-time rival Royals (10-1, 4-1) in the LTC Post-Season Tournament 1-0 and 2-0 in a Class 1A regional title meeting at H-BR.
“It was very similar to last year in that we technically outplayed them, but defensive lapses killed us,” Hinckley-Big Rock coach Paul Taueber said. “We don’t communicate, give up the ball in the middle, leave players unmarked; I guess we had to learn that lesson again.”
“They hadn’t gotten acclimated to their surroundings and I figured why not test them,” Skupien said of 20th goal. “I’ve played [club soccer] here and was excited for the atmosphere and I told my teammates [the field is] really big and fast. It was tiring for even myself.”
Midway through the first half, the Royals had a cross through the goalie box begging for a redirect, a shot blocked by a defender, and a solid right-wing attempt from Eric Phillips that was saved by Somonauk goalie Danny Humes. It was the senior’s fourth shutout of 2014.
Luke Enders earned an assist on Josh Schmitt’s 16-yard left-wing strike after 23:15 for a 2-0 lead. H-BR’s Cory Maercker almost negated that 30 seconds later, but his shot caromed off the crossbar.
Instead Schmitt added his team-best 35th goal with an unassisted rocket from right-of-center with 9:55 still to play in the first half. Three minutes later, Skupien set up Nick Saltzman for a 19-yarder from out top.
“It’s H-BR, so you have to be on your toes, especially since this match usually decides who wins the [LTC] regular season,” Humes said before denying the cavernous setting bothered him in net. “We talked about that scene [from Hoosiers on the dimensions being the same as the home field] on the bus. My defenders in front of me had a huge game.”