JOLIET – Minooka keeper Alex Singletary nearly made teammate Matt Dlugopolski’s early goal hold up against top-seeded Normal Community on Friday at the Class 3A Joliet Central Boys Soccer Regional.
However, the Ironmen answered making the game 1-1. Singletary would hold them scoreless for the final 17:05 of regulation and for two 10-minute overtime periods, even as the majority of the play was in Normal’s offensive end.
And even though Singletary let in some goals during penalty kicks, his teammates picked him up, helping make his one save enough.
Minooka scored four goals to Normal’s three during the penalty kick session for a 2-1 regional championship victory and a date with Moline on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. at the Joliet West Sectional.
“They came through when they needed to against a good Normal team,” Minooka coach Chris Brolley said of his players. “You can credit Alex Singletary for making a couple huge saves during the game. ... He’s been our leader all year.”
The first three shooters from each team scored during penalty kicks, with goals from Giacomo Raimondi, Luke St. Paul and Mason Messina of Minooka answered in turn by goals from Riley Hutchison, Ryan Woodside and Eddie Plesha of Normal. After Minooka’s Kyle Sparks became the seventh straight shooter to score, Normal’s Blake Smith blasted his attempt over the goal.
With a chance to clinch the win, Minooka sophomore Joe McCabe shot at the lower right part of the net, but it was saved. That left it up to Normal junior Connor Oltman to force another round, but his shot was stopped by Singletary.
“It was exhilarating, since I blocked one but it went in,” Singletary said. “The block in the fifth was actually a really good feeling.”
Before the penalty kicks, Minooka was largely silent after Dlugopolski’s early goal.
“I think [Riamondi] crossed it, and with my left foot, hit it off the pole, rolled into the back of the net,” Dlugopolski said.
Chances were few and far between for the remainder of the first half for both teams. In the second, Normal had a number of quality chances produce nothing until Brandon Lam of Normal kicked a loose ball following a corner kick past Singletary and into the right side of the goal.
“I think we got into a defensive mode too much,” Brolley said, “but you know what? This is what playoff soccer’s all about. Having fun, and it’s gonna come down to one or two mistakes.”