DANVILLE — The number seven has loomed large for an Urbana University High boys’ soccer team since the postseason began.
That’s how many victories it would take for the Illineks to win a state title.
Phil Anders’ guys crossed another one off the list Saturday, defeating a St. Joseph-Ogden team they had played to a draw early this season to earn their second straight Class 1A sectional crown.
Now, in the wake of a 3-0 triumph against the Spartans, the Illineks’ own version of a magic number is down to three. For the veterans on this team, Anders knows there’s a special urgency to keep chipping away.
“The seniors, they’re playing for their soccer lives and they’re going to go all out,” the Uni coach said. “Guys on this team who are making things happen, they’re soccer fanatics. They love this sport, and this is quite an accomplishment for them.”
So would be clearing the next hurdle. Or, as Anders put it, “See if we can take a peek at the promised land.”
For a small-school soccer player in Illinois, that would be The Corn Crib in Normal, site of the four-team Class 1A state tournament. Uni (20-2-1) now stands one win from that destination, with fellow sectional champ Macomb standing in its way.
Those teams will square off at 4 p.m. Tuesday in a super-sectional on what is familiar ground for the Illineks — the University of Illinois Turf Fields in Champaign. Win that one — No. 5 if you’re counting — and Uni would make its first trip to state in a sport it has been playing since 1986.
The Illineks have been down this road before. A year ago, Uni also advanced to a super-sectional after earning its first sectional crown.
That run ended with a 2-0 loss to Warrensburg-Latham.
Thanks to Saturday’s dominating performance, the Illineks kept the Crib in their sights. Uni wasted little time getting the jump on SJ-O.
Patrick Wong scored in the 12th minute on an assist by Paul Seeley. The Illineks made it 2-0 in the 30th minute when George Voulgaris converted on a feed from younger brother Panos Voulgaris.
“A fabulous goal,” Anders said. “I think my comment on the sideline was ‘That’s keeping it all in the family.’ Panos made a beautiful cross and George had a player hanging all over him but he was still able to get it in.”
Panos Voulgaris concluded the scoring with an unassisted goal in the 50th minute of the second half.
“He’s made a big difference this season, coming in as a freshman and doing a fantastic job.”