PALOS HEIGHTS | Beecher freshman Gabe Fonseca is going to have a tough time topping the first playoff game of his career.
Fonseca scored two goals, including the game-winner, to give the Bobcats a 4-3 win over rival Illinois Lutheran in one semifinal of the 1A Chicago Christian Regional.
After taking a 3-0 lead into the half, Beecher allowed the Chargers to tie the game after Illinois Lutheran scored three goals in less than two minutes.
Fonseca added the winning goal just 1:34 afterward.
"I was just in the moment," Fonseca said. "I thought we were just a bit too cocky coming into the second half. We were caught off guard when they scored."
Beecher (14-9-2) started the scoring less than four minutes into the match when Tylar Swanson found the upper right corner of the goal on a loft shot from outside the box.
Fonseca then added his first goal nine minutes later to give the Bobcats the 2-0 lead. Senior Jackson Strick added a goal with 8:36 remaining in the first half to give Beecher the three goal advantage.
"We refocused and stayed strong and came out with the win," Strick said. "I know we can't overlook any team on Saturday, so we just need to refocus after this win and practice hard."
After a rough first half, Illinois Lutheran (14-8) came out stronger and faster in the second half.
Justin Schmidtke scored on a header off of a Luke Egeler corner kick with 27:46 remaining before Evan Henschel and Egeler added their own goals just 51 and 88 seconds later.
"It was a wild one," Illinois Lutheran coach Andy Biesterfeld said. "I'm proud that the boys battled back after being down three. I told them at the half, you're going to have to do this one goal at a time."
The Bobcats were able to gain their composure after giving up the lead, and after a flurry of shots and saves in front of the Illinois Lutheran goal, Fonseca was able to drive the ball home for the game winning goal.
"We had a makeshift lineup going in," Beecher coach Dawn Compton said. "I still had confidence in our lineup, and Gabe came through huge today as a freshman stepping in and starting."
The Bobcats will play Chicago Christian at noon Saturday for the championship.
"We need to do a better job of marking in the middle," Compton said. "We're going to work on that in the next few days and just watch and see what Peotone and Chicago Christian might bring to the table."