SERENA – You can only keep a sleeping giant down for so long. For Mendota, the alarm went off later than expected, but once the Trojans woke up, they made sure everyone knew they were wide awake.
Mendota’s varsity boys’ soccer team spotted Serena a 1-0 lead and then tallied five straight goals in the final 20 minutes of the game to pull out a 5-1 victory in the championship game of the Serena Class 1A Regional on Oct. 15.
The triumph was the Trojans’ 21st straight without a loss this season and propelled them into the Chillicothe IVC Sectional where they met Peoria Christian on Tuesday night. A win in that contest places Mendota in the sectional championship against either Quincy Notre Dame or Somonauk on Saturday, Oct. 23 at Chillicothe. Game time is 3 p.m.
Serena was the aggressor on offense to start the contest and had several shots on goal before it finally converted with 27 minutes left in the first half when Carson Baker slipped a shot past Trojan goalie Manny Trejo to give the Huskers a 1-0 lead.
The first half ended with that same 1-0 count.
Mendota got its first big break of the contest at the 38:25 mark of the second half when Serena was saddled with a red card for a player trying to stop a ball from going into the net with his hands. That gave Trojan goal-scoring machine Yahir Diaz a penalty kick, but his shot sailed wide right of the pipe and the Huskers still clung to the 1-0 lead.
“I must admit that after we missed that penalty shot, I wondered if it wasn’t our day,” said MHS coach Nick Myers.
Seventeen more minutes elapsed before Mendota finally snapped its long scoring drought when Diaz banged home the tying goal with 21:13 left.
Nine minutes later, Diaz broke the tie when he tallied off a deflection on a throw-in to put the Trojans in front for good.
The barrage continued for Mendota when Ricky Orozco drilled a shot from about 50 feet that found the back of the net at the 9:05 mark, then 59 seconds later, Johnathan Cortez tallied his first of two goals to provide the final margin. His second score came with just 1:40 left in the game.
After Serena scored its lone goal in the first half and had several other chances, it never came close to tallying a goal in the second half.
While the Trojans took nearly three-quarters of the game to score their first goal, Myers said he didn’t panic.
“We’ve worked a lot on scenarios where we’re down 1-0, 2-0,” he said. “I knew it was only a matter of time before we scored. We broke them down and started putting more pressure on. And we’ve been a team that scores a lot of goals in bunches.”
The Trojans made it to the championship game with a 3-1 win over Newark in the semifinal-round on Oct. 12.
Cortez booted home a pair of goals, while Orozco added the other.