All-around play advances Boys Soccer to city semifinals with 3-1 win over Young

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Ruby Thompson

Lane’s Wilson Smiejek (4) and Brando Diaz (11) react after Smiejek scores Lane’s second goal in the first half.

By Alex Burstein, Editor-in-Chief

Lane Tech Boys Soccer Head Coach Andrew Ricks sees three make-or-break moments in a soccer game.

“If you score and you score again, that’s the mark of a good team,” Ricks said.

Check. Lane scored twice in the first half to take a 2-0 lead in the city semifinal against Whitney Young on Saturday night at Lane Stadium.

“If you get scored on and you can hold or score right back, that’s the mark of a good team,” Ricks said.

Check. After Young scored a quick second half goal, Lane responded, getting a goal back nine minutes later to regain a two-goal lead.

“If you get scored on and you get scored on again, it’s a mark of a bad team,” Ricks said.

Check. Lane’s defense, which has been the key for Lane all season long, recovered quickly and didn’t give up a second goal to the Dolphins.

In 80 minutes, the Lane Tech Champions (12-3-1) were able to check off all three of those criteria as they earned a 3-1 win over the Whitney Young Dolphins (10-4-3). The win advances Lane to the city semifinals, where they lost to Payton 2-0 a year ago.

The game, which started nearly thirty minutes late due to a football game being played before going late, was all in Lane’s favor from the opening kickoff.

Lane’s defense was able to force turnovers quickly against the Dolphins early on. On the opposite side of the field, Lane’s midfielders and strikers were setting up chance after chance, but missed shots, offsides, misplayed passes and aggressive defense by Young kept the Champions off the board.

After 24 minutes of this pattern, Lane finally found their breakthrough. Taking the ball from near the left corner flag, junior Benjamin Dopp dribbled along the end line, dribbling through a defender’s legs before pocketing Lane’s first goal of the day in the 24th minute.

Lane wasted no time after that. Lane nearly scored again after Young’s junior goalkeeper Jackson Sprenger almost fumbled a free kick save into the goal. Then, in the 34th minute, Lane junior Wilson Smiejek would head in goal inside of the goal box off of a free kick just outside of the left side of the penalty box from senior Henry Winston.

“Originally, I didn’t think it was going in,” Smiejek said. “But the goalie made a mistake, and it went in, and we took advantage of it and then got to celebrate in front of the opposing fans. So that felt great.”

The second goal from the Champions seemed to wake up the Dolphins’ offense. After struggling to score on multiple chances the rest of the first half, just five minutes into the second half Young found the back of the net. After receiving a perfectly placed free kick pass to the middle of the penalty box, junior forward Szymon Szkodon had his shot blocked, but senior midfielder Alejandro Goldstein rebounded the blocked shot in front of the net and finished with a goal.

Ricks said the team talked during halftime about coming out strong for the start of the second half.

“We came back, but it was frustrating to give up that goal when we talked about it,” Ricks said.

Young played with a newfound confidence following that goal, but after squandering some chances, Lane would score again. A long shot from the right side of the field from Lane junior Devin Parikh was blocked by the keeper, but senior Kamil Pluta got the ball near the goal line and finished with a 54th minute goal.

Then came 26 minutes of defense for the Champions.

“It was a lot of pressure,” Smiejek said. “But we also had a two-goal lead. So, I felt secure, and we were talking as a team, we were just saying get everything out. Don’t give them any opportunities to score a goal.”

Numerous free kick, free throw and corner kick attempts for the Dolphins deep in Lane’s defensive territory kept the game exciting, but Lane’s defense held strong and kept the game at a two-goal lead as time expired.

 “We want to win and move on,” Ricks said. “But then to beat your opponent that is such a longtime rival, then it’s even sweeter. But we have bigger plans.”

The next step in those bigger plans is a city final berth, which Lane will look to clinch Tuesday night. Lane will face off against the Taft Eagles Oct. 11 in the semifinals, with a 7:00 p.m. kickoff time at Taft Stadium.