NORMAL – The Genoa-Kingston boys soccer team’s first appearance in the state semifinals in school history Friday is likely a day the Cogs would rather forget.
The Cogs had their streak of four straight shutouts and seven-match winning streak snapped in a 4-1 loss to Herscher in the Class 1A state semifinals at the Corn Crib.
Four goals is the most the Cogs have surrendered in a match since a 5-0 defeat to Burlington Central on Oct. 5.
G-K sophomore forward Juan Lechuga opened the scoring for the Cogs in the ninth minute of play with his 12th goal of the season.
“We were doing well and we always come out strong,” Lechuga said. “We look for each other. They found me, I saw an open shot, took it, and I saw it was going in. I thought that was the start of a good half and a good game.”
Herscher tied the score at 1 in the 29th minute when senior forward Mitchell Schwartzkopf, the team’s leading scorer, scored his 30th goal of the year.
“In the first half, we had no complaints with the way we played,” G-K coach Randy Tate said. “Actually, we thought we outplayed them. We got that first goal and they came back [with a goal] on a misplay. I thought we played a very good first half. We were right in it and really confident.”
The Cogs and Tigers were knotted up at 1 heading into the locker room for the halftime break, but G-K’s play early in the second half proved to be its downfall.
The Tigers scored two goals within 30 seconds of one another early in the second half. Schwartzkopf struck again with his 31st goal to put Herscher up, 2-1, before junior Brody Ryan scored his seventh goal of the season to give the Tigers a two-score lead.
“I don’t know what happened,” Tate said. “I don’t know if it was just a mental mistake or what. That one’s a mystery to me. That first goal took a lot of wind out of us and we weren’t prepared and they caught us again.”
Ryan tallied his second goal of the match in the 50th minute to propel the Tigers to a 4-1 advantage, the match’s final score.
“We wanted to do it big and we’ve never made it this far,” Lechuga said. “In the first half after the first goal, we thought we had a chance to bring back a first-place title or maybe second. This meant a lot to all of us. It wasn’t about just making it to state; it was about getting farther. We didn’t want to just make it here, we wanted to win.”
G-K will finish its season at 3 p.m. today in the third-place game against F.W. Parker, which lost 3-0 to Gibault Catholic in Friday’s other semifinal. Regardless of the outcome, a third- or fourth-place finish will mark the highest finish for G-K boys soccer in school history.