Workinâ€™ overtime: Kaneland soccer earns regional title, falls to Sterling in sectional
by Mike Slodki
KANELANDâ€”It was one heck of a late-season run that the Knightsâ€™ soccer roster went on, and it will be nice to reflect on in time.
All that will happen once the team catches up on sleep.
Starting with the Class 2A Sycamore Regional opener on Oct. 20 and ending with the Belvidere Sectional semifinal loss to Sterling, Kaneland played in nine overtime periods and came away with its first regional plaque since 2004.
The Knights beat Sycamore to open the playoffs in a 1-0, four-overtime thriller, and then beat top-seeded Rochelle to win the regional on Friday in a 1-0, two-overtime match.
The season came to an end with a 3-2, three- overtime loss to the Sterling Golden Warriors on Tuesday, ending the season at 11-11-2, a four-game improvement on last yearâ€™s end.
Sterling was scheduled to face Wednesdayâ€™s winner of Burlington Central-Freeport on Friday for the sectional final.
Against the Spartans, Chad Swieca knotted things up with a close-range goal with 21:32 left in regulation.
With the skies darkening and the Knights 55 seconds away from going into the penalty kick phase, Jordan Escobedo hit a header into the net off a corner kick for the win.
â€œI missed a bunch of goals, so I was pretty mad,â€ Escobedo said. â€œI just went down and saw the ball coming and put my head down and saw it in the back of the net.â€
Against the Hubs, Kaneland waded through almost 100 minutes of scoreless soccer before Derek White scored with 57 seconds to go in the second overtime to capture Kanelandâ€™s first soccer regional title since 2004 and the first head-to-head regional for Kaneland since the Lady Knights softball team in 2005.
At Belvidere High School, a scoreless tie was broken by Sam Rymarz with 5:11 remaining in the first half from roughly 25 yards out.
In the second half, Sterling got on the board 5:10 into the frame after a ball caromed off of two Knights.
With 3:01 remaining in the contest, the Warriors got another goal to go up 2-1. When all seemed lost, Swieca won a battle with the Sterling goalkeeper and knocked a loose ball in with 1:23 to go in regulation.
Sterling finally scored a goal with Conrado Solis knocking it in with 8:39 to go in the third overtime.
The disappointing end in the sectionals fails to take away from the prolific late-season run of KHS.
â€œIt was fun,â€ KHS coach Scott Parillo said. â€œNine overtimes in three playoff games? It ages you. The thing Iâ€™m most proud of is that we didnâ€™t give up.â€
Photo: J.P. Minogue stops Sycamore cold during the Oct. 20 four-overtime win over the Spartans. Kaneland was unbeaten in three meetings with Sycamore in 2010, and fought all the way to Sectionals this season. Photo by Mike Slodki