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Nico Williams’ hat trick fuels Kennedy to victory over St. Joseph in sectional semi

10/30/2013, 8:33pm CDT
By Patrick Z. McGavin

Nico Williams could not be stopped, recording a hat trick in Kennedy’s 4-2 victory over St. Joseph in a Class 2A Riverside-Brookfield Sectional semifinal on Wednesda.y

Nico Williams is barely known outside of the southwest side of the city, but he is not likely to stay anonymous for long. Williams is a fun and engaging player to watch. He has a low center of gravity and explosive lateral movement.

St. Joseph has certainly seen enough of him.

The speedy and electric 5-5 sophomore scored two goals in the second half and Kennedy senior Daniel Santos produced the game-winner on a header as the Crusaders slipped past the No. 1-seeded Chargers 4-2 in a Class 2A Riverside-Brookfield sectional semifinal Wednesday on a rain soaked field.

Williams raised his season-mark to 23 goals. The imperative number is five. That is how many goals he has recorded against the Chargers. He registered a hat trick as Kennedy beat St. Joseph by the identical score, 4-2, at the Public League and Catholic League Shootout at Solorio last month.

Just for good measure he hit the post on another shot. “I don’t know how to explain it,” Williams said. “That’s just my style of play.”

State tournament soccer tends to be conservative and tightly-played affairs dominated by defense and strong goal play. Somebody forgot to tell the two teams.

The squads alternated scoring in bunches as Kennedy stormed out to a lead only to watch the Chargers storm back before Kennedy recorded two late goals to secure a sectional final appearance on Saturday afternoon.

“You have to give them some credit,” Williams said. “They scored two nice goals against us, but we just had to fight back.”

Kennedy (16-3-5) scored on a miracle shot to end the first half. With the two teams fighting for possession in the closing seconds, Kennedy defender Jimmy Pineda smashed a high and arcing shot from 44 yards out that curved beyond the reach of the Chargers’ keeper for a goal with 2.6 seconds to play.

Williams extended the margin to 2-0 in the 51st minute when he beautifully played a left-footer from about nine yards into the far post. Kennedy appeared cruising, its sharp offensive attack preventing St. Joseph from creating many offensive chances of its own.

Suddenly, the momentun shifted as St. Joseph finally began to string together passes.

The Chargers (16-4-3) scored two goals nine minutes apart, the first a rocket ball from junior forward Anthony Gulli in the 63rd minute. Overtime appeared the order of the day after St. Joseph senior midfielder Israel Tovar created the equalizer in the 72nd minute.

Kennedy had different plans. Off a sharply arranged set piece, a corner by senior forward Rafael Walus, Daniel Santos timed his run perfectly and smashed a header into the right corner in the 75th minute for his third goal of the year.

“That was the first time this year I scored like that,” he said. “I don’t normally dive, but Rafael gave me a great ball and I just had to finish it.”

Williams ended any hope for a St. Joseph rally by controlling a one-hop ball and flicking a ball off the ground from about 18 yards out in the 79th minute.

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