Chargers finally raze Bolen wall
CHAMPAIGN – For most of Saturday's 80 minutes of soccer, Urbana goalkeeper Spencer Bolen was threatening to make Centennial's postseason life miserable.
The senior made a string of sensational saves to keep the Class 2A regional championship match scoreless heading into overtime.
"Spencer," Urbana coach Randy Blackman said, "was absolutely phenomenal."
But the Chargers wasted no time in overtime, scoring 37 seconds into the sudden-death period on Jonathan Hinds' goal from Kyle Bullock.
"He's actually a great goalkeeper and played an amazing game today," said Hinds, who has scored all five of Centennial's postseason goals. "We just got one by, and I'm thankful for it."
Centennial (18-2-3) advanced to Tuesday's Mahomet-Seymour Sectional for a 6:30 p.m. match against Normal West.
Bolen's impressive work started early. He stopped three point-blank shots in a five-second flurry in the 22nd minute, and he robbed Bullock twice in the second half in a span of 2 1/2 minutes.
The deeper the match went scoreless, the pressure figured to pile onto favored Centennial, aiming to achieve a seasonlong goal of reaching the state tournament.
"It gets a little bit more difficult, but we just need to keep our composure," Bullock said.
The Chargers had a few moments of anxiety but rebounded nicely.
"I think we kind of melted down a little bit in the middle of the second half," Centennial coach Cole Bushue said. "We got a little frustrated, but then I think we calmed down the last 10 minutes of the second half and refocused. We thought we were playing well enough that we deserved a goal. They made some great plays to save the goals. When we got into overtime, you could see that these kids knew the goal was coming."
Said Hinds: "We knew that with all the chances we had, one was going to slip in eventually."
It was Centennial's second victory against the Tigers, following a 2-1 win last month.
"That's a good team, and the scary thing about them is any team that Randy coaches, they're going to be better every time you play them," Bushue said. "They have a lot of guys who really showed me a lot in the two games that we played them. Spencer played fantastic."
Next up is a rematch against Normal West. The Chargers won 5-0 in their second match of the season Aug. 25. That was West's only defeat in Big 12 Conference play.
"That was the first weekend of the season, almost two months ago, and it's going to be a totally different team, I'm sure," Bushue said. "West has been playing really well all year."
A victory could set up another match against Champaign Central, a 4-0 victor against Lincoln in the final of the Mount Zion Regional. The Maroons take on Normal U-High in Tuesday's 4:30 semifinal.
At Mount Zion
Central held Lincoln without a shot on goal en route to its Class 2A regional title.
Ricardo Vega led the Maroons' attack with a goal and an assist. Also scoring were Kaleb Walker, Andrew Newman and Martin Musuruana. Walker's unassisted goal gave the Maroons a 1-0 halftime lead.