PALOS HILLS | As of late, Thornton Fractional senior Ray Kobus had uncharacteristically been struggling with his shots on goal.
So his coaches gave him the simple advice to just start letting 'em rip, and on Tuesday night, Kobus took no time putting their advice into practice.
Kobus scored in the second minute of T.F. United's 3A Stagg Regional semifinal against host Stagg. The goal would be enough on this night, as Thornton Fractional advanced 2-0 over the Chargers. Reynaldo Porter also scored for the United.
"Definitely that goal gave us some big momentum going into the game," Kobus said. "Even at practice, I've been struggling with shooting a lot, so my coaches told me to just rip it. So I saw it there, and I just took the shot, and it went in."
Kobus' goal allowed the United to settle in, and Thornton Fractional was able to minimize the effects of the rain and poor weather throughout the game.
"When we score early we have a very good success rate," United coach Alejandro Lagunas said. "We went up, and we kept it simple. I think the biggest thing is everyone is buying into what we're doing, and they know that they're always going to have a chance.
"I'm very proud of them and how they worked."
Much like Kobus' goal to start the match, Porter's goal came just 2:24 into the second half and gave the United the 2-0 advantage.
"The coaches have been telling me to push," Porter said. "Push and just keep running, and it will come. We just need to keep practicing and try to make history."
The two-goal lead forced the Chargers to press, and a calm Thornton Fractional defense was able to stop any and all threats by Stagg in the second half.
Goalkeeper Gabriel Gutierrez came up with some key saves for the United down the stretch to preserve the shutout. He finished with 11.
"It's just solid defense," sweeper Ivan Cazarin said. "We have a lot of hard-working guys with good work ethic."
The United (16-6-1) moved on to face the winner of today's Thornton Township/Romeoville match.
"We've got a great bunch of kids," Lagunas said. "We'll play whoever. I know it's going to be a hard game. Everybody's seeded ahead of us.
"We're the underdog here, so we'll take it."