If the first 74 minutes of the boys soccer sectional game between Woodstock and Lakes high schools were uncharacteristically poor for WHS, the last six were vintage Blue Streaks.
For a team that started the game with a 23-0 record, those 6 minutes were nearly enough.
Losing 3-0 late in the game, WHS cut the deficit to 3-1 in the 75th minute following a free kick which bounced around the 6-yard box before falling to Brian Rico, who put it away.
A minute later, Josue Carreno’s stunning long-range strike into the top corner of the net gave the Streaks real hope that a comeback was on with about 4 minutes left.
“I was mind-blown. After [Carreno] had that beautiful goal, I was like, this could really happen for us, and we could maybe take it to overtime and win it there,” said the Streaks’ Maclean Buckley. “My mind was racing and so was my heart.”
But it was too late. The Eagles’ defense bent but would not break, handing the Streaks a 3-2 loss in the IHSA Class 2A Grayslake Central Sectional, the first defeat of the season for WHS. Lakes went on to lose on penalties to Freeport High School in the sectional championship Oct. 27.
“I couldn’t have asked for anything more out of them. It’s my first year as their head coach, and these guys played and responded so well. It’s a tough way to end the season,” said WHS coach Matt Warmbier. “I couldn’t be more proud of the way that they responded and the way they continued to fight, even at the end.”
The Streaks had a shout for a penalty early in the game, when Carreno was brought down in the box following an impressive dribble past a crowd of defenders. But it was the Eagles who, in the 25th minute, were awarded the game’s only kick from the spot. Jeffrey Milostan capitalized on a handball in the box, making it 1-0 in favor of Lakes.
The Eagles kept the pressure on, with Milostan getting on the end of a long through ball to make it 2-0 in the 33rd. A delayed decision from the referees gave Lakes a 3-0 advantage heading into halftime, when a throw-in from Milostan in the dying seconds of the half found its way to Matthew Mercure, who headed it over the goal line.
“I’m proud of how we did this season,” Buckley said. “This game, it’s just unlucky, I guess, is the best way to describe it.”
The game grew chippy at the end, and a shoving match broke out as the clock wound down. Referees showed red cards to Angel Arias and Rico from WHS and Zach Dydo from Lakes, although the cards had no practical effect on the game because it was over by the time they were booked. Arias and Rico will have to serve a one-game suspension next season, while Dydo was held out of the Eagles’ game against Freeport.
The loss ended a stellar season for the Streaks, who won the regional championship for the first time since 1994 and whose 23 consecutive wins — good enough to tie for seventh place all-time in the state, according to the IHSA — set a school record.
“We’ve never given up on a game, and we continued to show it today,” Warmbier said. “I kind of wish we had some things go our way in the first half and maybe it would turn out a different way. But I can’t be more proud of the way they’ve played the entire season and what they’ve accomplished. There’s things nobody can ever take away.”