BURBANK | For Jose Sandoval and Thornton Fractional, this win is a dream come true.
T.F. United beat Eric Solorio Academy 3-2 Wednesday to advance to the Windy City/Ram Classic championship at Toyota Park.
It will face Marian Catholic, a 2-1 winner over Bloom Township, at 2 p.m. Sunday.
Sandoval had two goals for the United, including the game winner with just 1:45 left in the match. Ray Kobus had a goal and an assist for the United.
"This game was really about who wanted it more," Sandoval said. "It came down to the end. It's every soccer player's dream to play at a professional stadium, and to be doing that at (age) 16, 17, it's great."
Kobus opened the scoring when he gave the United an early lead just 4 1/2 minutes into the match. Solorio then answered with a goal of their own. The match remained tied through the half before Sandoval scored his first goal, assisted by Kobus, 1:29 into the second half.
"We knew this was going to be a good game," Kobus said. "We played our best and we won it."
Solorio again tied the score at 2-2, and the stage was set for Sandoval's late game heroics. With the Solorio defense pushed up, Daniel Stellfox took a ball deep into the Solorio end where he found Sandoval on a cross for the Sandoval header and the winning goal.
"We played until the end and that's what we've been stressing to the kids," United coach Alejandro Lagunas said. "We have to play the entire game, no one's entitled to anything, so we have to earn everything you want."
The Spartans moved to the finals with a 2-1 win over Bloom Township as Alec Guarino recorded both of Marian's goals. Guarino was excited the Spartans now hold the Chicago Heights bragging rights over Bloom.
"They can't talk anymore, cause we beat them," Guarino said. "The first half we didn't come out as strong, but we had a good talk at the half."
With the game tied at 1-1, Guarino and the Spartans ran a set play off a Marian Catholic corner, and Liam Fagen found Guarino for the game winning goal.
"We had a set piece play," Guarino said. "I came up to half and tried to stay unmarked. I run in, and he passed it, and it's like an open shot. We took that and it worked."
Bloom Township coach Kelly Gutierrez said it has been a tough-fought tournament from the first game on for the Blazing Trojans.
"All the games in this tournament have been hard fought contests," Gutierrez said. "Our guys are still learning to work together. They're learning to cover for each other. We're just not getting as much offense as we would like."