Washington's Miguel Delgado may not be playing at 100 percent, but the Patriots are happy to take the goalkeeper in any shape the senior is in.
Delgado, along with classmate and midfielder Rafael Alarcon, play a huge part of why the Patriots find themselves in tonight's Lincoln-Way West Sectional semifinals. Delgado, who returned from an ankle injury just in time for the playoffs, is still not at full strength, but he's performing at a high level nevertheless.
"I was out for two months and just got back in mid-October," Delgado said. "I knew this was my last chance being a senior so I wanted it to be perfect. I came back and started working out with my left leg because I knew my right foot would be tricky. I just came to coach Perez and told him I was ready."
In the most improbable of finishes at the Lemont Regional championship, Delgado was brought up along with the entire Washington team with just 30 seconds remaining and the Patriots trailing Bremen 1-0. On a corner kick which would serve as Washington's last chance, Delgado found a loose ball and sent it into the Bremen net to send the game into overtime.
"I kept my head up and told our players we have to do this," Delgado said of his last minute heroics. "I thought 'what am I doing up here.' We got a shot and it was deflected, and I saw the ball and just put it into the goal."
In the second overtime period, Alarcon scored to give Washington the regional title. In one game, the two seniors showed just what they mean to the Patriots team and its chances in this year's tournament.
"We just like to pass the ball and work it around," Alarcon said of the squad's strategy. "We're playing solid right now and the way we should be playing. If we just play our game, pass the ball, and stay focused, we can win the game."
Washington will face host Lincoln-Way West at 7 p.m. in the second match of the sectional semis. After moving through a tough Lemont Regional where the Patriots overcame both Lemont and Bremen, Washington is considered to be the favorite in the Lincoln-Way West Sectional, and the team is ready to accept that role and challenge. Washington coach Al Perez knows his duo of game-changing seniors will play a big part in any Patriot success.
"If I would have gone with our other goalie in that second half our season would be over right now," Perez said. "Call it luck call it whatever. Miguel got that goal and then Rafael got the goal in the second overtime, and because of it, we're headed to the sectional semifinals."