Notre Dame beats Oswego, 2-0, to win Morton Super-Sectional.
MORTON — Matt Barkley, one of 11 seniors on the Peoria Notre Dame soccer team, kicked the pass from midfield, and it took one bounce right to his teammate, fellow senior Brogan O’Brien.
O’Brien made a nifty move one-on-one to beat the defender before blasting a shot in the air into the corner of the net to give the Irish a 1-0 lead.
Notre Dame held on to beat Oswego, 2-0, Tuesday night in the Morton Super-Sectional. The victory gave the Irish a spot in the state tournament this weekend in Naperville.
“That was a set play that we’ve worked on in practice a lot,” O’Brien said. “Matt gave me a great pass. I wasn’t thinking goal right away. I was just trying to move into the box. I was lucky enough to get a good shot off. It was a great feeling.”
Notre Dame coach Mike Bare said the play was designed specifically for O’Brien because of his ability to create a scoring chance.
“We isolate everybody to the other side and give Brogan a chance to beat somebody one-on-one,” Bare said. “He executed it perfectly.”
Sophomore Vince Cicciarelli, who narrowly missed three good scoring chances earlier in the second half, scored Notre Dame’s second goal with 4:19 left in the game.
“After last year (an overtime loss in the Super-sectional), we knew that 1-0 was not good enough,” Cicciarelli said. “We knew we had to keep pressing to get one more goal and put the game away.”
ND was ahead, 1-0, in the final 25 seconds last year, but ended up losing in overtime to Champaign Centennial.
“A 1-0 game is a one-mistake game. You are just one mistake from letting the other team get back in it,” Bare said. “Vince’s goal at the end was huge.”
O’Brien said the victory was the greatest moment he has experienced in sports, but it is not the ultimate goal.
“We’re not done yet,” he said. “We have a state championship to play for.”
Notre Dame will play Westchester St. Joseph at 1 p.m. Friday in the state semifinal game. If the Irish win, they will play for the state title at 11 a.m. Saturday. The games are at North Central College in Naperville.
“At the beginning of the year, all the players and coaches said that a state championship should be our goal,” Bare said. “We have the players to do it. We’re not happy just getting there. We have two more games to go.”
The win over Oswego was the eighth straight shutout for the Irish.
“Our defense has so much confidence right now,” Barkley said. “We feel that we can shut anybody down.”
This group of 11 seniors has never been to the state finals.
“This is our chance to leave our legacy,” Barkley said. “We want to go out as state champions.”