Although Morris closed the regular season with a 2-0 loss to Northern Illinois Big 12 conference rival DeKalb, Redskins coach David Valdivia saw the match as a turning point.
After opening the season 10-0-3, Morris struggled a bit late in the year, dropping four conference matches. In the season finale, though, Valdivia saw a spark.
“I thought a light came on in the last 20 minutes of the DeKalb match,” he said. “We started putting all the pressure on them and attacking really well against them. That’s when I knew we’d be ready for regionals and sectionals.”
Morris (13-4-5) opened the playoffs in fine fashion Tuesday, topping Roanoke-Benson 3-0 in a Class 2A Morris Regional semifinal.
“We knew that we just had to possess the ball and play it on the ground,” Valdivia said. “We possessed the ball about 90 percent of the game and we had some great crosses to set up goals.”
Ricardo Del Toro (32 goals) and Chava Villanueva (19 goals) have a formed a tremendous duo for the Redskins, who will meet Streator in a regional final set for 3 p.m. Saturday.
“We played Streator at their tournament and tied them (2-2),” Valdivia said. “We just have to play the way we’ve been playing, and I
think we have a good chance to win our third regional title in a row.”
Perhaps no area team improved more from the beginning of the season then Plainfield South. The Cougars finished just 6-12-3, but ended the regular season with a 4-2 win over Plainfield Central.
The No. 14 seed in the Class 3A Metea Valley Sectional, South pushed third-seeded Batavia to the limit in Tuesday’s regional semifinal before suffering a 2-1 loss in a shootout.
“We’ve had some close losses and some tough luck this season,” South coach Dave Brown said. “I felt like we were a better team throughout the year than our record showed.”
Player of the Week
Ian McGrath, of Lincoln-Way West, is the Herald-News Boys Soccer Player of the Week.
McGrath, a senior forward, recorded hat trick in the Warriors’ 6-0 win over Rich South in Tuesday’s Class 2A Lincoln-Way West Regional semifinal.