STREAMWOOD — During the 2013 boys soccer season, Dundee-Crown had won 19 times and tied once while not losing a match, spanning 57 days.
But the No. 3-seeded Chargers' undefeated season came to an end Wednesday in a 1-0 shootout loss to second-seeded Larkin in the Class 3A Streamwood Regional.
It was a tough loss to take for the Chargers, whicho put more shots on net than Larkin and had several prime scoring opportunities in the second half but couldn't muster a goal. The match was scoreless through regulation and two overtime periods before it was decided in penalty kicks, which Larkin won, 4-2.
"I thought we had a really good second half and I thought we were threatening most of the time and we needed to put it away there," Chargers coach Rey Vargas said. "You get those opportunities and it's one of those heart attack moments but they didn't go in."
The two teams met earlier this season just 11 days before Wednesday's match, but Larkin coach Ken Hall didn't play that match at full strength. When Hall learned the two teams would face off again at regionals, he didn't want to give the Chargers any material.
"We played our bench," Hall said of the match. "We played with different formations and our starters played different positions.
"We tried not to show them anything normal. We didn't want to tip our hand and today we played them straight up."
The Chargers (19-1-1) won that Oct. 12 match but saw a different Larkin team, complete with starters, during Wednesday's loss, though Vargas said that nothing their opponent did on the field surprised them.
D-C played at a fast place, which created a lopsided margin in shot opportunities, 8-2, by the end of regulation. Gerardo Escorza nearly gave the Chargers the lead as the final seconds ticked away in the first overtime but launched a shot just over the crossbar from 10 feet out. Similarly, Larkin had a nearly duplicate shot attempt with five minutes to play in the second overtime but was denied by Chargers goalkeeper Jose Gonzalez.
"I just knew I had to keep working and do my part," the junior keeper said. "We had momentum and I was hoping we would get one in there so it wouldn't go to a shootout."
It did and Gonzalez trotted out to the net for his first shootout experience as a keeper. The key, as both keepers explained, is to watch shooters' body language, how they approach the ball and where they stand to determine which way it will be kicked.
"[Gonzalez] did good," said Larkin keeper Aldair Dominguez, who was involved in a shootout during last season's playoffs. "He went the right way on most of the kicks. It's tough, though"
Ben Stone and Eduardo Arellano had their shots turned away at the start of the shootout while Larkin connected on its first two. Needing to make all of their remaining shots, Chargers defenseman Francisco Nava scored along with teammate Paul Buch, but Larkin didn't miss its next two shots and went on to win.
"I was definitely nervous," Gonzalez said. "But this is definitely motivation for next year and this is something that we're not going to let go of for awhile."