MENDOTA – In two regular season matchups with Earlville-Leland, Hinckley-Big Rock knew one thing was for certain heading into Saturday's Class 1A Mendota Sectional championship – it was going to be physical.
Not only did the Royals play aggressive against the scrappy Red Raiders, but they owned time of possession by out hustling their opponent to take home their second consecutive Class 1A Sectional Championship from E-L with a 1-0 win.
“We see Earlville a lot and every time we play them, it's always a physical match,” Royals coach Paul Taeuber said. “I told them before the game 'You can expect these couple of guys to be real physical on the ball, shoulder-to-shoulder,' and it showed.”
The aggressive play brought on four yellow cards – three to Earlville-Leland and one to the Royals (21-4). Along with the penalty colors came a ton of whistles as the referees called 26 combined fouls.
The first half of play didn't see a goal scored as the two teams jockeyed for possession while the Royals sophomore goal keeper Jason Bohannon stopped three of the Red Raiders' five shots on goals.
H-BR had six shots on goal in the first 40-minutes of play, but came out firing with four shots 4:02 into the second half.
The rapid fire dented the Red Raider armor on the fourth go around when senior midfielder Andrew Klambauer beat a Red Raider to the ball and passed to open senior forward Billy Weissinger -- who placed a well kicked ball out of the reach of Earlville-Leland's goalie, Dan Pfaff, at the 44:02 mark.
“I got a pass in the middle, took one step and then there was an opening, so I just hit it low, it bounced off the edge of the keeper's finger tips and went in,” Weissinger said. “I needed to hit it on frame, I couldn't hit it over because at halftime we talked about how we needed to hit our shots on frame.”
Weissinger's goal would be the only one on the game.
With most of the second half left to play after Weissinger's goal, Earlville-Leland (15-9-1) had plenty of chances to tie or take the game, but the H-BR defense and Bohannon refused to relent – only allowing six shots on goal in the second half.
H-BR finished the game with 16 shots on goal, while the Red Raiders had 11.
“We knew that they could bring a close game, I told my team 'At this point in the year, it's win or go home and you're going to get the best from every team you play, which means you have to provide all that effort—leave everything on the field,' ” Taeuber said. “Earlville did that today.”
The Royals will face Cristo Rey Jesuit-- at the Class 1A Naperville North Super-Sectional Oct. 23 at 6:30 p.m.