St. Laurence Rebounds from Semi Final Loss to Beat Rochester 4-2 in Class 2A Third Place
First State Trophy for Viking Coach
By Jared Birchfield
HOFFMAN ESTATES – Both St. Laurence and Rochester were shut out in the AA semifinals Friday.
St. Laurence bounced back best from the disappointing loss to down Rochester 4-2 in the Class AA third place match Saturday at Hoffman Estates High School.
First half goals from Tristan Figueroa, Eduardo Perez and Edgar Perez put the Vikings in command 3-0 at halftime.
Rochester found its footing in the last 40 minutes. In between Rocket strikes from Major Gibson and Landon Kutscher, Diego Lugo found the back of the net for St. Laurence’s final tally.
St. Laurence made its first state final appearance under third-year coach Jamie Alonso. The last time the Vikings advanced to the state tournament was 2019, when the team brought home the fourth place trophy.
The Rockets took their fifth state plaque back to central Illinois, all during coach Chad Kutscher’s 22-year tenure. Rochester (19-7-0) finished third in its last state appearance in 2013.
Both coaches agreed putting the semifinal losses in the rear-view mirror was important.
“I think for us it was just coming in with the right mentality. It was a quick turn-around from last night and obviously a devastating loss for us, being in such an even game and just getting the short end of the stick,” Alonso said.
“I think our guys showed their maturity in that they still had a job to be done, and they showed up. I thought from the first whistle that we really dictated the play.”
Rochester was the other side of the coin.
“I think from the start it was pretty obvious to everybody. We came out flat and that blame lies
squarely on my shoulders,” said Chad Kutscher. “I’ll take credit when my team is ready to go and I’ll take blame when they’re not.
“For whatever reason, they were not ready. I’m sure there was some disappointment from yesterday, but you’ve got to get over that and be ready to play. St. Laurence got over it. They were ready to play. And they even had less recovery time.”
Figueroa put St. Laurence (15-7-2) on the board in the eighth minute. Rochester goalkeeper Reid
Loy got his hands at chest height on the senior midfielder’s hard shot from just inside the box but the ball spun into the back of the net.
“We won the first ball, and then I won the second ball,” Figueroa said. “I just dribbled past their
backline and (put) it in.”
After the semifinal shutout, getting on the board quickly boosted St. Laurence’s morale.
“Scoring an early goal was a big key to getting our confidence back,” Alonso said. “Today it was big to score one nice and early.”
Eduardo Perez doubled St. Laurence’s lead in the 11th minute on a close-in shot for goal no. 15 of the campaign.
“Johnny Esparza sent a long ball, and I just chased it down,” Eduardo Perez said. “I went one-on-one against the keeper, and I slid it away.”
Edgar Perez, the Chicagoland Soccer Man of the Match, corralled a loose ball in the box that Loy tried to clear. He deposited it into the Rockets net in the 27th minute.
“I’m pretty sure it was a mistake by the goalkeeper or one of the defenders. It was kicked back, and I was just right there and controlled it. I just took a touch,” Edgar Perez said. “I hadn’t been shooting the whole game. I knew I had to put one in, so I just shot it.”
The senior midfielder, who tallied 11 goals and nine assists this season, was the Viking’s main offensive force on the pitch Saturday.
“I think that from the first minute, he was finding the ball in wide areas and there was no one on that team that could contain him,” Alonso said. “Whether it was him beating someone one-on-one or trying to get others involved, I thought he had a fantastic day.”
Rochester finally found some offensive spark when Shaking up the line-up sparked Rochester’s offense.
“Once we started shuffling some kids in and out, we started getting a little more energy out there,” Chad Kutscher said. “It kind of turned the match into what you would expect for a typical third place game.”
Gibson scored Rochester’s first goal since its 1-0 supersectional upset win over Triad on Tuesday in
the 57th minute to cut St. Laurence’s lead to 3-1.
Alonso thought his squad momentarily lost its focus.
“There were moments where we fell behind, when we started losing first and second balls, and
they became the more dangerous team,” said the Vikings manager. “But I think our leadership
showed today that we can lose concentration at times, but we can bring it back in and do what we
need to do to get a result.”
Lugo’s close-in header with 13:47 left to play returned St. Laurence’s lead to three. The senior directed
an air cross from Edgar Perez into the right corner of the net for his 13th goal of the year.
Kutcher’s son Landon closed out the scoring in the 78th minute. The junior led the Rockets with 19 goals.
St. Laurence’s backline was critical to its successfully state run.
“I think that on our route here to the state finals, we faced lot of good attacks, and our backline
did a great job of holding them by containing a lot of good teams and players,” said the Vikings
coach. “I think everyone from Clark Herrera to our two center backs, Matthew Suchecki and
Frankie Martinez all the way to Lorenz Garcia on the left side did a great job.”
GK: Vin Diesi
D: Matthew Suchecki
D: Clark Herrera
D: Lorenz Garcia
D: Frankie Martinez
MF: Johnny Esparza
MF: Edgar Perez
MF: Tristian Figueroa
MF: Saul Garcia
F: Eduardo Perez
F: Diego Lugo
GK: Reid Loy
D: Landon Kutscher
D: Carson Berberet
D: Cohen Spengler
MF: Major Gibson
MF: Brenden McArdle
MF: Tucker Spraetz
MF: Brayden Trello
MF: Lachlan Sullivan
F: Adan Nieves
F: Cole Weiskopf
Chicagoland Soccer Man of the Match: Edgar Perez, sr. MF, St. Laurence
SL: Figueroa (unassisted), 8’
SL: Eduardo Perez (Esparza), 11’
SL: Edgar Perez (unassisted), 27’
R: Gibson (Jack Reid), 52’
SL: Lugo (Edgar Perez), 67’
R: Kutscher (unassisted), 78’