There’s been no shortage of school spirit at Genoa-Kingston, but the Cogs’ first-ever appearance in the Class 1A boys soccer state finals is just part of the story.
A perennial football qualifier from the mid-70s to early 90s, Genoa-Kingston is in the IHSA playoffs for only the fourth time since those glory days. But members of the football squad were at the school well after midnight to cheer and greet the Cogs soccer team after its 1-0 victory in Tuesday’s Peoria Christian Supersectional.
Earlier in the evening, Genoa-Kingston’s volleyball team -- having lost game one (25-14) of a regional opener and trailing in game two -- heard the announcement of the boys soccer triumph and the “fans going crazy” over soccer qualifying for state. The Cogs rallied to win that volleyball match.
Soccer coach Randy Tate knew exactly where his soccer players would be spending their Thursday evening, at the regional volleyball final.
“Maybe being a smaller school means everyone knows each other, but all the excitement has really helped our students, fans and community come together. All the squads support each other. Having the football players meet us at the school was great,” Tate said. “Some fans will have to choose between football and whenever we’re playing Saturday.”
Of course, the first order of business is Friday’s 5 p.m. semifinal at the Corn Crib in Normal against a veteran Herscher program led by two-time All-State pick Mitchell Schwarzkopf. The senior has the most points (63) and goals (29) among all the Final Four players.
However, coach Alan High points to a defensive trio of Trenton Cruse, Nick Wheeler, and Zach Simmons that is the backbone of the team. Goalie Leighton Howard (tourney-high 14 shutouts) and the trio have made up for the early-season loss of starting sweeper Nathan O’Connor to an ACL injury.
Genoa-Kingston has yielded the most goals (41) during the season, but nearly half (21) came in four blowout losses starting with the 7-1 season-opening setback that was avenged when the Cogs beat Somonauk in the Supersectional. However, since allowing a late goal in a 3-1 regional-opening victory, Genoa-Kingston’s defense and keeper Andrew Caldwell have put together 336 minutes of shutout soccer.
Genoa-Kingston also boasts six double-digit point producers. Senior William Crozier (15 goals, 6 assists) is followed by Juan DaSilva (12, 7), Juan Lechuga (4, 14) and Erik Tomlinson (8, 10).
The second semifinal pits two familiar 1A tourney names in Parker and Gibault.
Senior Noah Wolff powers the Parker offense with 22 goals and 11 assists. Parker has the most successful streak among the Final Four with an 11-match unbeaten (9-0-2) string.
Mitch Meyer has 17 goals to lead Gibault.