PEORIA — History was put on hold Friday night.
For the first time in more than a decade, the Notre Dame boys soccer team will spend supersectional Tuesday on the sidelines after falling to Quincy Notre Dame 4-2 in the Class 2A PND Sectional final.
Leading 2-1 at the half, the Irish were 40 minutes away from becoming the state’s first soccer program to win 20 sectional titles when the visiting Raiders spoiled the party with three unanswered goals.
Two of those goals came within the first 10 minutes of the second half, leaving the Irish (19-5-0) with more than a half hour to respond. The hosts did so by taking it straight to the QND defense, but crossbars and goal line clearances conspired to give the night to the Raiders.
“It is what it is,” PND coach Mike Bare said. “One thing about our program is that we never make excuses. I think a lot of things could have maybe gone our way a little bit better, and I thought we were a little unlucky at times, too.
“We had our chances. We had one off the crossbar, a scramble in the box with one cleared off the line. We were all over them for a period of time, we just couldn’t find our way into the net.”
The Irish finished with a 7-6 advantage in shots on goal, but a 19-7 difference in fouls called may have been what gave QND the edge.
Granted multiple free kick opportunities deep in Irish territory, the Raiders (21-4-0) capitalized on their opportunities with well-executed set pieces and precisely placed shots.
Down 1-0 after Declan Dillon’s goal in the 16th minute gave PND the lead, QND quickly leveled the score when Will Drew scored off a set piece a minute later.
Noah Madrigal’s goal in the 30th minute put the Irish back on top, but was negated when Conner Fenton pounced on a loose ball in the PND box and fired it past Irish goalkeeper Lucas Fontana to equalize at 2-2 in the 45th.
Moments later, the Raiders seized the moment once again when Mac Little buried a free kick from just outside the 18 to put QND ahead 3-2 with 32:56 to play.
“We’ve been creating opportunities like that all season long and have been able to take care of them,” said QND coach Greg Reis, whose team will face West Chicago Wheaton Academy on Tuesday in the Sterling Supersectional.
“We were down 2-1 at halftime, but we’ve been down several times throughout the course of the season,” Reis said. “I just told the guys to keep playing the game the way we’ve been playing all season and things would take care of themselves.”
Despite creating numerous opportunities in the game’s final half hour, the Irish were unable to return the favor.
Jake Cusack nearly leveled the score midway through the half, but was denied by both keeper and crossbar on his attempt from close range. Dillon came within inches of equalizing as well, but saw his shot cleared off the line at the last second.
The end of the Irish hopes came abruptly, with QND freshman Seth Anderson running around the outside of a depleted PND defense before depositing a shot into the far side net to set the final score.
Their run of 10 consecutive sectional titles snapped, the Irish plan on milking every bit of motivation from this setback as they build for the future.
“We start a lot of sophomores right now, and not a lot of guys with postseason experience,” Bare said. “Now we’ve got some guys with postseason experience, and we’ll use this as motivation going forward.”
Josh Wessler can be reached at 686-3214 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @joshwessler.