MAHOMET – As the stakes get higher, Centennial's boys' soccer team gets more comfortable.
The Chargers inched closer to their first sectional title since 2001 by beating Normal West 3-0 on Tuesday. It was their third – and most impressive – win of the Class 2A postseason for the top-seeded Chargers, who meet Normal University High at 6 p.m. Thursday.
"Honestly, in the first couple of (playoff) games there were some nerves," senior Jonathan Hinds said. "By now, we've worked them out. There's no reason to be nervous.
"If you're going to lose, make sure the other team has to beat you. Don't lose because you're afraid. We keep all of our thoughts positive."
Hinds continues his postseason push and Kyle Bullock scored twice for the Chargers (19-2-3). Hinds scored the game's first goal early in the second half – his sixth in the playoffs – and added two assists.
"Jonathan Hinds has been carrying us," Centennial coach Cole Bushue said. "He's so strong and so confident. He leads by example."
Bushue wasn't surprised Bullock sparked the team's offense.
"If teams want to shut down one guy, we have three or four more who can step up," he said. "Bullock did it tonight."
The Chargers beat Normal U-High 1-0 on Sept. 12. It was Centennial's first win on the Pioneers' home field.
"They're quick, they've got a lot of good players," Hinds said. "It should be a really good game because we both play the same way."
Calm and collected.
"A team like us, where we're a No. 1 seed, you're nervous early because people expect us to win," Bushue said. "Once we got past the (regional title match against Urbana), we relaxed a little bit. It gets better the further you get."