DANVILLE — For a relatively new boys’ soccer program, St. Joseph-Ogden is acting like a playoff veteran.
Already with a Class 1A regional championship under their belts, the upstart Spartans advanced to the sectional championship with a gritty 1-0 win against Iroquois West on Wednesday at Schlarman. SJ-O will face either Urbana University High or Manteno on Saturday. The Illineks trailed 1-0 with 9:25 remaining in the first half when Wednesday’s second semifinal was postponed because of lightning.
Uni athletic director Sally Walker said the schools have proposed to resume play at 5 p.m. Thursday at the turf fields at Illinois, allowing Manteno to make a shorter trip. She said the IHSA will act on the request Thursday morning.
The opponent doesn’t matter to SJ-O, which is wading through uncharted waters.
“If you would have told me when I took this program over three years ago that we’d be where we’re at, I would have laughed,” SJ-O coach Richard Vetter said. “We’ve completely flipped it around, and all the credit goes to the kids.”
In its fourth season, SJ-O (19-3-1) is two wins from reaching state.
“I’m kind of shocked myself,” Vetter said. “Every kid who comes in has the same goal: ‘We’re going to be state champs when we’re seniors.’ This group is no different. They had those same goals. I don’t want to look ahead, but we’re a couple matches from doing that.”
Colin Seward scored in the first half and keeper Kyle Roedl made it stand up, making four saves for his 12th shutout. The senior has allowed 13 goals this season.
“He was thrown in there as a freshman because they needed someone to play goal,” Vetter said. “Every year he’s gotten better. This year he has done phenomenal work.”
So have his teammates.
“It’s a great feeling knowing that all the hard work is starting to pay off,” Vetter said.