by Alex Gleyzer, staff reporter
After a thrilling 2-1 victory over Evanston, Wheeling claimed the sectionals title and advance to the super sectionals. For Weeling this is their third title this year and a ticket to the super sectionals
The Wildcats were propelled by the efforts of Luis Herrera, senior, who scored both goals for Wheeling. For Herrera, he recorded his fourth goal of the state playoffs and his second game winner.
“I felt good knowing that we had won something that has only been won one time in the history of Wheeling. I was very relieved because we knew that we could have a chance at something big like a sectional title and a chance to get into the super sectional,” Herrera said.
After a linesman delay, the Cats were off and running pushing the pace for the majority of the first half. Herrera would capitalize on an assist from Ivan Mancilla, senior, and shoot the ball past the right hand of the Evanston goalie to give the Cats a 1-0 lead.
In the second half Herrera would add his second goal of the game after a scramble for the ball off a shot from Jose Garcia, senior.
Evanston though would not give up. The Wildkits came attacking back by drawing a penalty kick. Gary Mendoza, senior would make the initial save, but Evanston bounced on the rebound and scored to make the score 2-1.
“It felt good making the save off the penalty kick, but the ball came out to them (Evanston) and they scored on it. I just had to shake it off and stay concentrated in the game,” Mendoza said.
Evanston looked to gain the momentum from that goal as the Wildkits continued their offensive pressure. The Wildkits added a plethora of chances in the final 20 minutes, but were not able to capitalize on any of them.
Even with all the offensive pressure, the Wildcat defense looked to remain strong. Wheeling would keep the score at 2-1 pulling out a tough victory.
“We were a little unorganized. They (Evanston) easily had a couple chances and our defense wasn’t following up. Gary (Mendoza) played great, and once we started communicating more we were able move the ball up,” Alfredo Rocha, senior, said.
The victory would add a sectional title to the Wildcat season making it their third title overall this season and the biggest one yet.
Wheeling will advances to super sectionals where they will meet Barrington in a big rematch of the MSL Championship. The Wildcats and Broncos will face off Tuesday for a berth in the final four.
For the Broncos, they will be seeking revenge after the Wildcats came into Barrington and beat them for the MSL Championship. This will be the third and final time the teams meet this season with both teams looking to show what they have learned from the last time they met.
“They (Barrington) think they’re better, and we think we are better. Every team wants to win, but we know we can. We have great chemistry in and out of the field and we have all the confidence in one another. As long as we finish our chances, focus, and keep their moral down we can come out with a victory.” Rocha said.
The Wildcats will look to show Barrington that the MSL Championship was no fluke. Wheeling hopes to show that the third time will not be the charm for the broncos, and look to eliminate their conference rival for good.
“These are two solid squads that are both tough to score on. We need to come prepared and accept the challenge in front of us. It will be an all out battle from the start. We just need to play with heart and our guys will come out on top,” Leo Elizalde, assistant coach, said.
“They (Barrington) are going to be mad. We want this rematch to prove that we earned the championship. Barrington has a lot of talented guys, but it doesn’t matter where they shoot from, I’ll stop them all. We know we’re going to win,” Mendoza added.