DeKALB – The situation was dire.
Dundee-Crown trailed Huntley by a goal in the final minutes Wednesday night, and was trying to score into a stiff wind. Through both games of an IHSA Class 3A DeKalb Sectional doubleheader, teams struggled to score in the north goal. Frustration mounted on the D-C bench, which picked up a yellow card as the clock ticked below 10 minutes.
Then Chargers midfielder Osvaldo Rodriguez pulled off the unexpected, scoring twice in the final six minutes.
D-C defeated Huntley, 2-1, to advance to its first sectional title game in program history. No. 2-seeded D-C (14-9-1) will face No. 1 Jacobs (15-4-3) – which beat DeKalb, 7-2, in Wednesday’s other semifinal – in the sectional title at 5:30 p.m. Friday.
“Wow,” D-C coach Rey Vargas said. “Wow is all I’ve got to say.”
Rodriguez scored out of a scrum in front of the net to tie the game with 5:37 remaining. Moments later, teammate Roland Dearborn led an attack into the box and passed off to Rodriguez, who fired it home with 4:03 to play.
“We just had to believe, we had to believe in ourselves,” Rodriguez said. “There was five minutes left. We had to do it. We had to put it in the back of the net.”
It was a swift turn of events, one that left No. 6-seeded Huntley (11-11-1) in disbelief.
Following a scoreless first half, the Red Raiders’ Gabriel Majocha scored the game’s first goal in the 50th minute. The Huntley defense then stood tall for nearly the remainder of the game.
“As we got that goal, we let up a little tiny bit, and a little tiny bit was too much,” Huntley coach Matt Lewandowski said. “So, it is what it is. The boys fought hard in the end.”
The Red Raiders turned last year’s two-win season into 11 wins this year and a regional title. They nearly booked their ticket to the sectional title, too.
“For that group of seniors to make that type of impression for the rest of the group is absolutely incredible,” Lewandowski said. “Hopefully we can remember that going forward, but I think we need to be proud of our season because we haven’t achieved this much in a long time.”
D-C had beaten Huntley, 4-0, during the regular season, but that game came way back on Sept. 12. Vargas said he made sure the Chargers didn’t put too much stock in that early season victory.
The Chargers won their third regional title in program history last week (2016, 2018, 2019), but this is the first time they’ve reached the sectional title game.
“Everything’s going the right way and we just keep fighting and not giving up, even when things are down,” Vargas said. “They have some heart.”
It sets up a sectional title between two of the Fox Valley Conference’s best and two District 300 rivals. Jacobs defeated D-C, 2-0, on Oct. 8.
In its 7-2 win over DeKalb, Jacobs scored five goals in the second half. Six Golden Eagles scored in the game. Liam Armstrong scored twice. Bryan Ramos, Chris Loizzi, Alex Nicastro, Ruben Zarate and Abraham Gomez all scored as well.
The Golden Eagles’ second-half barrage came with the wind at their backs.
“For us, it was a huge factor because we know [DeKalb likes] to play pretty direct,” Jacobs coach Colin Brice said. “That kind of limits their game plan offensively. For us, we like to possess the ball.”
Jacobs will try to win its third sectional title in four years after winning sectionals in 2016 and 2017. The Eagles will have to do it against a familiar foe.
“A lot of these guys were a part of [the 2016 and 2017 sectionals],” Brice said. “It would be great to get back there and to do it against one of our conference rivals.”