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State Soccer c/o Brenda Young RRSTAR

October 30, 2010
Stillman Valley High School


The Stillman Valley boys soccer team hadn't suffered an overtime loss this season until Friday.

The Cardinals, making their state debut, fell to Lisle 3-2 in double overtime in a semifinal game at the Class 1A boys state soccer tournament at North Central College.

Stillman Valley had won its three previous overtime games with victories over Genoa-Kingston on Sept. 15 and had defeated both Earlville and Herscher in the playoffs enroute to winning their first-ever sectional title at Hinckley-Big Rock on Tuesday.

Lisle's all-time career goal scorer Grant Fitzgerald ended the Cardinals' overtime streak when he scored on Pat Webb's cornerkick in the 95th minute to secure the victory for the Lions.

Fitzgerald's goal earned him a hat trick as the Lions (16-9-1) head to the championship game for the first time against Peoria Christian (20-3-3) on today at 7:30 p.m., while Stillman Valley (21-4) takes on Columbia (18-3) for the third-place trophy.

"It's sad," said Stillman Valley forward Uriel Perez, who scored two goals.  "We wanted to go for first, but sometimes it just doesn't work out, so now we are focusing on third-place."

The Cardinals had the better of the play in the game. They outshot the Lions 16-7, but couldn't get a handle on Fitzgerald.

"We played very well, but we didn't mark No. 10 (Fitzgerald) very well in the first half," Stillman Valley coach Lyn Larsen said. "In the second half, we did better and after his second goal. We had plenty of chances. We had them on their heels. We had the momentum."

Perez gave his team renewed life when he tied the game at 2-2 in the 68th minute when he scored on a header off an assist from Devin Standard. Perez also scored two goals in the Cardinals' sectional final win over Herscher 2-1 in overtime.

Fitzgerald scored the game's opening goal three minutes in, but Perez tied it at 1-1 on a breakaway goal late in the first half.

Lisle took a 2-1 halftime lead when AK Kamara assisted Fitzgerald's second goal.

"I love scoring, but I wouldn't be able to do it without guys like Pat and Eric (Osika) who are so great with the ball," said Fitzgerald, who now has 31 goals. "They are able to get control of it and distribute it to me and it makes my life a lot easier on the field."

That wasn't what the Cardinals wanted to do as they also saw their 11-game win streak end.

"He was very good," said Stillman Valley goalkeeper Andrew Larson, who had four saves. "If we would have shut him down better, it would have been different."

Despite the loss, the Cardinals are hopeful for a season-ending victory.

"It's been such a wonderful ride and we have never been here before," said Larson, in her sixth season as coach. "I'm just really proud of my boys. We have made history and I am proud of them. We've got to keep our heads up and get ready to play for third. We have to think that no matter what, it's an honor to be here."  

Staff writer Brenda Young can be reached 815-987-1388 or byoung@rrstar.com.

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