SOCCER: Herscher blanks JCA, moves to Sectional Final
BRAIDWOOD — If you look up the word ‘consistency’ in the dictionary, a big picture of Herscher soccer is next to it.
The Tigers handled their business and took down Joliet Catholic 4-0 on Tuesday to advance to a Class 1A Sectional Final for the sixth-straight season.
“We’ve put in so much work since the offseason to get to this point so it means a lot,” senior midfielder Preston Fillmore said. “All of the conditioning that we did over the summer completely paid off in the second half.”
Although Herscher wasn’t as dominant out of the gates, it was the aggressor and took the fight to the Hilltoppers.
Forward Jake Allen got an open look from the top of the box, but it went off the top of the goalpost and bounced out.
However, Preston Fillmore was at the right place at the right time and finished the put back goal with a header to put Herscher ahead 1-0 at halftime.
“Most of the my goals this year have come from crashing the net,” Fillmore said. “I’m just seeing and looking for an opportunity to crash and clean up. It worked out perfectly.”
The Tigers held a 9-2 shot advantage at halftime and realized that the Hilltoppers were starting to gas out a little bit.
Logan Lunsford found a way through the pile and connected on a goal to put the Tigers ahead 2-0 just six minutes into the half.
They smelled blood and began feeding time for the next 34 minutes.
“Sometimes we get that lucky break even when we shouldn’t,” senior forward Jed Martin said. “But when it happens, we don’t let up or take out foot off the gas. We noticed (Joliet Catholic) was getting tired so we wanted to continue wearing them down.”
Wearing the Hilltoppers down was going to take some speed, therefore Herscher turned to its speedster in Allen and he delivered.
Continuing his high energy after hitting the post twice, Allen kept at it and finally connected on a goal as the keeper left the goal and missed on a save for a 3-0 lead.
He put the dagger in with 4:29 remaining as he took off in a dead sprint from 25 yards out and pushed it just underneath the goalie for the final score.
“We played a decent first half, but definitely revved it up in the second,” Herscher coach Alan High said. “We knew JCA was a pesky team. However, when they started committing their numbers forward, that leaves the running lanes open and it was over. Great effort by the guys, quite an accomplishment to post a shutout in sectional semis.”
Defense wins titles
Considering the magnitude of the game, this was one of the most complete games the Tigers have played according to High.
Which says a lot considering Tuesday’s game was the 16th shutout they’ve completed this season.
Every team wants to be playing their best ball near postseason time, yet it’s right now three postseason games in that High says they’re at their best.
“I thought at times we were scrappy and other times we were lucky,” High said. “Our defense has performed in the big games. Reece Harrod has gone a great job as our sweeper, (goalie) Jack (Holohan) has been exceptional and our three backs; Jacob Schultz, Corey Enfield and Caleb Fleischauer did great as well. We’re exactly where we need to be as a team.”
Herscher plays the winner of today’s Class 1A Sectional semifinal between Peotone and Grant Park on Friday back in Braidwood.