By Brad Spencer
UPDATE: The OPRF soccer team defeated Hinsdale Central 2-0 to win the Hinsdale Central Sectional semifinal on Tuesday night. Stephen Golz and Okker Verahagen scored for the Huskies (20-3-1), with assists from Max Neumann and Mike Bower.
OPRF now moves on to the Hinsdale Central Sectional Championship against the winner of the Morton vs. Lyons semifinal tonight. The title game will be held at Hinsdale Central on Saturday at 11 a.m.
The OPRF soccer team battled Downers Grove South for four overtimes on Friday until prolific scorer Stephen Golz netted the game winner that gave the Huskies a 2-1 victory and the Class 3A Regional Championship.
Golz broke Robin Hargadon's school record for most goals in a season when the senior scored five in OPRF's 8-1 toppling of Curie in the regional semifinal a few days earlier. Golz surpassed Hargadon's record of 26 — set in 2005 — on his final goal of the game.
"It's a nice feat because last year he had 10 goals and [this season] he really worked on finishing and placing the ball, besides just using his power," said OPRF head coach Paul Wright of his Wheaton College-bound forward. "His size and speed are tremendous helps, but his ball-handling skills have greatly improved and he's able to create space."
Others who scored for the Huskies in the win over Curie included Mike Bower, Noe Espinoza and Marcus Machado, who also scored in the opening minutes of the regional title game.
The Huskies (19-3-1) put Downers Grove South on its heels in the first 15 minutes of action on Friday, but were unable to up their 1-0 lead. Ryan Huettel, who had assisted on Machado's goal, had a shot smack off the goal post.
Around the 25-minute mark, the Mustangs capitalized on OPRF's defensive miscue and notched the score at 1-1. "It was a lapse and they punished us on it," said Wright.
After being keyed-in on for much of the game, Golz was able to find an opening for the game winner.
"Everybody knows about Stephen without a doubt, but to train to watch somebody for 80-plus minutes is hard to do," said Wright. "He is a great player and is used to that pressure.
"Our entire midfield stepped up to show a different style of attack," he added. "We had some great chances [early on] but were not catching any breaks."
The Huskies were scheduled to take on Hinsdale Central last night (after print deadline) in the semifinal of the Hinsdale Central Sectional. OPRF defeated the Red Devils back in September 2-1 in overtime.
A win over Hinsdale Central will pit the Huskies against either Morton or Lyons Township in the Hinsdale Central Sectional Championship on Saturday (11 a.m.).