BUFFALO GROVE, Ill. – Despite a valiant effort by the Harper College men's soccer team to knock off top-seeded Triton College, the Hawks' season ended with a 2-0 defeat in the Region IV Semifinals on Wednesday afternoon at the Schwaben Athletic Club.
On a cold and blustery afternoon, the Hawks (3-9) struggled to maintain possession of the ball in the game's first 15 minutes but played sound defense to keep the game scoreless.
Harper finally applied pressure to the Trojan defense and nearly got on the board first. Aldo Figueroa (Wheeling, Ill./Buffalo Grove) sent a beautiful cross to the center of the box for a streaking Luis Vargas (Palatine, Ill./Palatine)but could not connect as the ball rolled past.
The Trojans (11-1-1) struck first in the 18th minute on a turnover in the Harper zone. Midfielder Ruben Chavez capitalized on the mistake, drilling a shot into the lower left corner of the net, beating Hawks goalkeeper Sean Cox (Schaumburg, Ill./Conant) for a 1-0 lead.
Triton carried over the momentum with crisp passing, keeping the ball away from the Hawks for much of the rest of the half. In the 38th minute, Triton's Gustavo Sandoval sent a ball into the penalty area, and Pierre Day headed it past Cox to give the Trojans a 2-0 edge heading into halftime.
The Hawks cleaned up their passing in the second half and had some scoring chances to show for it. Harper put four shots on goal in the second half, including two by midfielder Ryan Murphy (Schaumburg, Ill./Schaumburg). Kevin Engebretsen (Elk Grove Village, Ill./Conant) also had a prime chance but was shut down.
The Trojans outshot the Hawks 14-5 in the game. In his final game for Harper, sophomore goalkeeper Sean Cox (Schaumburg, Ill./Conant) made 13 saves in a losing effort.
Triton moves on to the Region IV Championship on Saturday to take on second-seeded Joliet, who beat Madison 1-0 on Wednesday to advance to the title game.