Kelly had a couple of weeks to brood and think about its last loss.
Two weeks ago, the Trojans were stunned in pool play if the Public League tournament by Lake View. Kelly was the defending city champion, and it was a blow. “It’s a bad taste in our mouth,” sophomore midfielder Alejandro Cervantes said.
Lake View ran past the rest of the field to capture the city title. As defending city champions, Kelly had little choice but begin to think about the state tournament.
Cervantes helped the team regroup by scoring a first-half goal for the lead Wednesday as Kelly eased past neighborhood and conference rival Curie 2-0 in a Class 3A Morton Regional semifinal in Cicero.
The Trojans (12-4-3) advance to meet No. 4 and host Morton this Friday for the regional title.
“That loss against Lake View in the city playoffs coming so early and we were the reigning champs, that was tough,” Cervantes said. “Now with the state tournament, we’re trying to redeem ourselves. This was a first game, and I liked the way we played.
“We played with a lot of energy, which is something I haven’t seen a lot of lately.”
Cervantes scored his second goal of the year to stake the Trojans to the 1-0 lead at the break. “I had the ball in the middle of the field and I was trying to pass it to Brian [Leon] but it deflected off a defender and bounced right back to me,” he said. “I kept going down the middle and I just took the shot.”
Kelly controlled possession time and shots on goal. Curie sophomore keeper Jonathan Gomez was superb for the Condors (7-6-3). Despite Kelly’s near constant onslaught of pressure, he registered eight saves for Curie, blocking two shots with his body and elevating to record several one-handed stops.
Curie had a couple of prime scoring chances the Condors failed to convert. Junior Eric Gonzalez was just wide on a free kick outside the box midway through the second half. The team’s best scoring opportunity arrived in the 68th minute.
Gonzalez advanced the ball down the left sideline and left a cross that junior Emmanuel Martinez was positioned to finish. He could not generate enough speed on the ball and Kelly senior keeper Jose Maya jumped on the ball.
Senior Kelly forward Jesus Hernandez put the game out of reach when he lofted a beautiful 22-yarder beyond Gomez’s reach in the 78th minute for the second score.
“We had some chances and we just didn’t capitalize,” Curie coach Leon Kim said. Kelly defeated Curie 3-1 in Premier conference during the regular season. “For us, we’ve never gotten past the regional semifinals since I’ve been coach.
“We’ve gotten better and better, after we got killed by teams like Downers North, Oak Park and last year Downers South. We’re getting ranked higher [in the seedings] and we finally played a city team. We lost our top scorer [Patryk Paprocki] from last year and we’ve struggled scoring.”
Kelly turns its attention to 23-2 Morton, the No. 2 seed in the loaded Hinsdale South sectional. Cervantes said the Trojans’ players knew many of the Morton players from summer club programs. “They’re a great team, but I’m looking forward to playing them,” he said.