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BLOOMINGTON — Urbana boys’ soccer will compete in a sectional championship match for the first time since 2017.

Coach James Barkley’s top-seeded Tigers handled third-seeded Rochester 4-1 in Wednesday’s second Class 2A Bloomington Sectional semifinal.

The result came on the heels of third-seeded Normal West trumping fourth-seeded Jacksonville 1-0 in the earlier semifinal.

German exchange student Deniz Schlieker produced two goals for the Tigers (18-0-2). The junior netted the eventual match-winner late in the first half, lifting Urbana to a 2-0 edge over the Rockets (11-10) at that time.

Seniors Noah Barkley and Kevin Juarez each potted one goal for Urbana, which has outscored its first three postseason opponents 13-1.

Rochester pulled within 3-1 with about 22 minutes left in regulation, but Schlieker put the icing on the Tigers’ cake by finding the net with under one minute remaining on the second-half clock.

Juarez, senior Grant Koplinski, senior Collin Schiff and junior William Arana each added one assist for Urbana, which received three keeper saves from senior Chase Mandra.

The Tigers’ last two trips to the sectional-final round did not end in their favor, though both of those transpired before any of Urbana’s current players were on the roster.

The Tigers fell to Chatham Glenwood 2-0 in a 2017 2A sectional final and 1-0 to Rochester in a 2013 2A sectional final. Prior to that, Urbana advanced all the way to the 2012 2A state semifinals and finished in second place.

The Tigers’ next hurdle this season is a familiar one. Normal West (18-3-6) and Urbana battled in a Big 12 Conference match back on Sept. 14, with the host Tigers picking up a 1-0 victory. That marks one of Urbana’s nine shutouts this season.

Colin Likas is the preps coordinator at The News-Gazette. He can be reached at clikas@news-gazette.com, or on Twitter at @clikasNG.

College/Prep Sports Reporter

Colin Likas covers Illinois football and high school sports at The News-Gazette. His email is clikas@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@clikasNG).

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