MORRIS – In the first game of the season, the Morris boys soccer team beat Kankakee, 8-0. Morris coach David Valdivia did not want his team to take the Kays lightly, however.
In the semifinals of the Class 2A Morris Regional on Tuesday, Morris heeded its coach’s advice and came out strong.
The Redskins (9-8-3) took a 6-0 halftime lead en route to a 9-0 victory that put them in Saturday morning’s 10 a.m. championship game against the winner of Tuesday’s late game that pitted Joliet Catholic Academy against Reed-Custer.
“We played them in the first game of the year and beat them 8-0,” Valdivia said. “But that was a long time ago. We hadn’t seen them since then. They could be an entirely different team. Look at Team USA. Anything can happen. They can get a lucky bounce here or there and get a lead, and then time just runs out on you.
“Our seniors did a good job of showing their leadership and not letting it get to that point.”
One senior in particular, Conner Shaw, made sure the Redskins didn’t suffer an upset. He scored five goals, two on penalty kicks, and led his team emotionally as well.
“We had a good game against them last time we played,” Shaw said. “We just came out with everything we had tonight and got the job done.”
In the early going, Morris had several scoring chances, only to see the ball sail just wide of the goal. There were also a few Redskin breakaways that were called back due to an offsides call.
Once the Redskins got things going, though, the goals kept coming.
Shaw started things off, scoring with 33:11 remaining in the first half off a rebound from his own shot. At the 29:24 mark of the first half, Ernesto Buenrostro scored the first of his two goals, off a rebound from a Shaw shot. Shaw again scored on a rebound with 19:53 left for a 3-0 Morris lead.
With 4:12 left in the first half, Shaw scored on a penalty kick and, just 20 seconds later, before the crowd had stopped cheering the previous goal, he found the back of the net again for a 6-0 lead, which the Redskins took into halftime.
In the second half, Shaw scored again on a penalty kick with 36:51 left to put Morris ahead, 7-0, and by rule the time remaining was cut in half. In the final 18:25, Connor McGlynn scored twice to provide the final margin.
“I think [goalie] Mac [Van Oudt] had a pretty boring night,” Shaw said. “We kept the ball on the offensive side, which is how we like it.”
“Early in the game, some of the guys weren’t real serious,” Valdivia said. “I didn’t have to say anything to them. Conner is a captain and he said something to them. I’m not sure what, but we played better after that.
“I thought Ernesto Buenrostro played well. He has really stepped up and is at his peak right now, which is good to see. Grant Simon has been playing really well on defense, so well that we have been able to move Kaleb Hefford up to offense, and that has helped us out.”