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Bounce-back Boilers finish 3rd in Class 3A for 2nd straight year

November 6, 2017

HOFFMAN ESTATES — For the second consecutive season, Bradley-Bourbonnais was able to rebound from a demoralizing loss in the Class 3A state semifinal round to come back and end the season on a high note and a third-place finish — this time with a 4-3 win over St. Charles North.

The Boilermakers came out steaming and tallied two quick goals to establish an early lead. All of their players were back in the optimal alignment, thanks to the return of Brandon Wray and Ben Kuxmann after the pair was absent from the previous day’s semifinal loss to Libertyville. The Boilers were firing on all cylinders in the first half.

It looked as though Bradley-Bourbonnais would take its 2-0 lead into the intermission without incident. But the curse of the angry referee that’s been haunting the Boilers for the past few weeks reared its ugly head.

With 1.9 seconds left before halftime, Peter Sorich was hit with a sudden yellow card for getting a little ahead of himself in assuming time had expired.

“A player from the Stars passed the ball to his teammate going for a corner kick as time was running out,” Boilermakers head coach Rohan Robinson said. “Petey kind of intercepted the ball and deflected it the other way, and he got his second yellow.”

So, that second yellow card for Sorich returned his team to a position that was frustratingly familiar during its postseason run: They would have to play the entire second half with just 10 players on the pitch.

The good news was the Boilers had proven they could overcome worse odds than those less than a week earlier when they won a Super-Sectional title despite playing 53 minutes at a personnel disadvantage — 23 of which saw them playing two men down.

“We weren’t really scared. We’ve been in worse situations like in the Normal game where we were down two players and still were able to come back with a last-minute goal and win it in penalty kicks,” said senior midfielder Efrain Davila. “I don’t think we were too worried about it, but we weren’t completely comfortable, either.”

The bad news, however, was the St. Charles North was able to take much better advantage of the Boilermakers’ handicap.

The dynamic quickly changed to start the second half, as the Stars applied much more consistent pressure and harried B-B keeper Drew Seyden. Five minutes in, they put themselves on the board to slash the Boilermakers’ lead in half.

But an extra player wasn’t enough to sap the momentum Nicholas Markanich had established in the opening half. Just a few minutes after the Stars’ goal, he deftly outmaneuvered two St. Charles North defenders and slipped a shot right between the keeper’s legs to put his team back up by two.

Nicholas and his twin brother, Anthony, continued to pepper the Stars’ defense with help from Davila’s pinpoint passing, but they couldn’t quite break through for a fourth goal.

Then, St. Charles North seemed to realize time was running out on its season. With 15 minutes remaining in regulation, Seyden was stranded out of position when the Stars’ attackers received a friendly deflection off the crossbar and punched it in to the vacant net.

More than two minutes after its second goal, the Stars struck again. This time, a sharp strike from 50 feet out glanced off the shoulder of a B-B defender, which altered the angle just enough to escape Seyden’s reach and tie the game at 3.

It looked as though playing understaffed yet again was starting to wear the Boilermakers down.

But the hero from their last improbable victory returned for an encore when Anthony sent a gorgeous cross in front of the keeper, and Nick darted forward and sent his final goal in a Boilermakers uniform into the net on a lunging header to seal up the win.

″(Nick) passed it to me, and I had some space,” Anthony said of the lead-up to his decisive assist. “I looked up and saw him behind the defender, so I saw that I could get it through to him in a good spot.”

The pass led to an extremely fitting end for the brothers’ high school careers.

“We usually know where each other are, so we’re good at that and forcing defenders to deal with that combination,” Nick said. “They usually can’t handle our combinations. We just keep working that, and when we found an opportunity to combine again, he found me with a great ball.

“It was kind of hard since we only had 10 players on the field, so we knew we had to counter-attack as soon as we saw the chance,” he continued. “We were able to find an opportunity to counter-attack, and we made it count.”