Before this season, Lincoln-Way Central finished below .500 every season since 2007. The Knights have already established themselves as a team on the rise, but Wednesday night they made a strong statement that they’re a sectional contender.
The Knights rolled past defending sectional champion Homewood-Flossmoor with stunning ease, earning a 16-5 victory in a Lincoln-Way Central Sectional quarterfinal.
“We definitely didn’t expect to win this by 11 goals,” Central coach Jim Lock said. “We came out and just shut them down. We’re hoping this puts us more on the map in terms of our conference, our sectional and the area.”
Tristan Funk scored four times to lead the fourth-seeded Knights (15-11-1), who will meet top-seeded Sandburg in Friday’s semifinals. Pat Burke and Tim Stygar had three goals apiece.
Haden Santefort paced No. 5 seed H-F (13-18) with four scores.
H-F led 2-0 before the Knights reeled off an 8-0 run. Leading 3-2 after one quarter, Central pulled away with a 5-0 edge in the second. Burke and Funk each scored twice in the half, Funk providing the highlight with a backhand laser from the corner.
“We didn’t want our season to end,” Burke said. “We knew that this was the one year we could really make a run.”
The Knights totaled an absurd 37 shots on goal as H-F goalie Jakobi McClellan made 21 saves.
“He’s the best goalie in the state,” Funk said. “We just had to keep firing up shots and we knew eventually some would go in.”
H-F, meanwhile, could not get anything going against a relentless Knights’ defense. After Santefort’s second goal made it 2-0 Vikings less than two minutes in, Central did not allow another goal for the next 12:57.
“Defense is what really got us going,” Lock said. “Our offense came on counter-attacks. We wanted to make them pay when we blocked a shot.”
Kyle Forsythe added two goals for the Knights.
Sandburg 12, Lincoln-Way East 6: The Eagles (23-8) outscored the Griffins 10-2 over the final three quarters, led by seven goals from Zach Roper. Ben Crnich and Mitch Zieler added two goals each for Sandburg. Bryan McNitt (2 goals) and Joe Di’Giovanni (11 saves) led East (3-26).
Lockport 12, Lincoln-Way North 5
No. 2 seed Lockport (26-4) jumped to a 4-0 lead and cruised as seven players scored, Jake Speechley leading the way with three goals. Shamus Shields made 25 saves for Lincoln-Way North (11-20).
Andrew 18, Bradley 9
No. 3 seed Andrew (25-3) went on a 12-1 run to break open what was a 5-5 game. Alex Gacek and Chuck Walters scored five goals each for the T-bolts. Nick Dalzell led Bradley (14-16) with five goals.