BRIDGEVIEW | There was a lot on the line Sunday at Toyota Park for Marian Catholic and Thornton Fractional as both boys soccer teams hoped to extend undefeated seasons in the championship game of the Reavis Ram Classic Tournament.
Neither team was willing to give an inch, answering every goal for 70 minutes of regulation and two overtime periods to force a shootout.
With the title on the line Marian Catholic's Alec Guarino helped his team clutch perfection, firing a shot past the outstretched hands of T.F. goalie Gabriel Guitierrez and found the back of the net to seal the championship for the Spartans with a 4-2 advantage in the shootout.
“It felt great turning around and seeing the whole team running towards me,” Guarino said. “It’s all about the team; it’s great to stay undefeated.”
Thornton Fractional (5-1) controlled possession for the first 10 minutes and only a save from Marian goalie Chris Taborn kept T.F. from grabbing an early lead.
“It was a game of momentum swings,” Marian coach Nasser Shahtaji said. “They carried the tempo early but it swung back and forth, when it looked like we had momentum it would swing back.”
Despite numerous chances by Thornton Fractional, the Spartans (8-0) scored first as Luiscarlo Avila knocked in a rebound to put Marian ahead 1-0 in the 10th minute. Thornton Fractional answered eight minutes later as Ray Kobus found teammate Jose Sandoval in front of the goal for a chip in.
“It was a great game and a great experience,” Kobus said. “We had a lot of chances after the first one but couldn’t put it away.”
The Spartans took the lead back a minute and a half later when Cody Rodas took a free kick from 40 meters away and delivered a perfect pass to Samuel Roche who flicked it in with his head to give Marian a 2-1 lead.
“It was unbelievable,” Roche said. "I didn’t even know I scored. I went up for the header and I felt it make contact but I didn’t realize it went in until my teammates told me.”
In the second half Marian was unable to extend the lead as Guitierrez made a pair of saves to keep Thornton Fractional within striking distance.
Thornton Fractional was able to tie the game late when Daniel Stellfox found Alexis Gallegos in the 55th minute to force overtime.
Kobus had a chance for the go-ahead goal in overtime but Taborn made a save coming off his line to block the shot from close range, ultimately forcing the shootout.
“I knew my guys would score on their shots I was just hoping I could save one,” Taborn said. “Stopping the first one really set the tone.”