Hinckley-Big Rock made it look easy in a 7-1 win over Princeton in the Mendota Sectional semifinal. But the Royals will have their hands full with Little Ten Conference rival Earlville-Leland today.
The Royals defeated Earlville twice during the regular season and beat the Red Raiders in last year's sectional championship. However, all three victories have come by one goal.
CLASS 1A MENDOTA SECTIONAL FINAL
Hinckley-Big Rock (20-4) vs. Earlville-Leland (15-8-1)
When and where: Today, 11 a.m. at Mendota High School
Scouting the Red Raiders: H-BR coach Paul Taeuber knows this game is going to be physical, like the Royals’ two previous meetings with Earlville-Leland this season. The Red Raiders have allowed just one goal in their three playoff games so far after coming in as the top seed in their regional. This team is strong in the midfield and goalkeeper Dan Pfaff has racked up two shutouts during the post-season so this one will be a challenge for a Royals.
Keys to victory: The Royals should be confident after beating the Red Raiders twice. After losing to Princeton in the regular season, 1-0, and beating the Tigers in the sectional semifinal, 7-1, H-BR knows not to be overconfident. The Royals are a mentally strong group, and they need to keep their heads in the game against a physical team. H-BR is made for the playoffs, though, and a second consecutive sectional championship is within reach.
Taeuber’s take: “They’re very aggressive, and they play hard, and they run through the ball. The kids give pretty much all they have in their entire body … You get familiarity, and you know their team, and anything can happen. You have to be diligent in what you do and you have to have more desire than your opponent.”
– Anthony Zilis, firstname.lastname@example.org