ECC Spartans end season as Region 4 Runners-up

Aldo Lazaro attempts to maintain control of the ball during the Region 4 Championship game against Harper College

Aldo Lazaro attempts to maintain control of the ball during the Region 4 Championship game against Harper College

lance lagoni

lance lagoni

Aldo Lazaro attempts to maintain control of the ball during the Region 4 Championship game against Harper College

Luz Silva, Editor-in-Chief

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The Elgin Community College men’s soccer team did what no other ECC soccer team has done in the last 25 years; they made it past the Region 4 quarterfinals and competed at the finals for the region championship. They faced Harper College at Palatine, IL on Oct. 20.

Within 25 minutes of the first half, Harper had scored, and for the remaining time, both teams remained scoreless. The Spartans’ post-season came to an end with the 1-0 loss to Harper.

The Spartans had faced Rock Valley College on Oct. 13 for the quarterfinals and beat them 4-2.

The following game was the semifinals against Triton College. The Spartans had previously lost to Triton 2-1 during their regular season. They prepared during their practices, anticipating a second opportunity to face the Trojans. The Spartans won against Triton on Oct. 16, 2-1 in overtime.

“The whole mentality was: ‘Triton [is] our biggest game of the whole season,’” said Sam Epperly, a co-captain. “We were kind of looking forward to getting another shot at them. There was a lot leading up to that moment, and I think that’s partly why we played so well in that game and came out with the win.”

“Triton was the team to beat, and we did,” added Oscar Realeno a first-year student.

The Spartans’ next opponent that same week was Harper College. During the regular season, the Spartans beat Harper 2-1 in overtime but were unable to outplay Harper a second time and lost to them 1-0, making Harper the NJCAA Region 4 2018 Champions and ECC Region 4 Runners-up.

Epperly commented on the challenges they faced against Harper.

“You could tell they [Harper] wanted it a lot,” Epperly said. “That was one of the major obstacles that I think we faced. It was the weather and just how much the opposition wanted that game.”

This year’s team has been different than previous ones as they not only made it past the first round of playoffs but also competed for the championship. Their accomplishments have been recognized in several ways. ECC’s Athletic Director Kent Payne shared his thoughts on the Spartans’ coaches and season.

“This was Sal’s second year, and it was the first season of his recruiting,” Payne said. “I think he got some of the best players in our area and within our district. A lot of them were freshmen, and he got them to play together, play well and compete. I thought the coaches did a terrific job of putting the team together.”

The Spartans received four all-region honors. Midfielder Aldo Lazaro was nominated for NJCAA All-American. Lazaro also made the first team along with Braeden Frenette, a defender. Goalkeeper Aldair Dominguez and forward Oscar Chavez were placed on the second team.

Dominguez was present in the Individual Goalie leaderboards for Region 4. He is 4th for number of saves and 7th for save percentage. He is among the top goalies of NJCAA Region 4 soccer players. He was surprised at his own achievements but expressed his admiration for his team’s achievements as well.

lance lagoni
Aldair Dominguez makes one of three total saves against Harper College on Oct. 20

“I can’t get over how much of a difference we’ve made,” Dominguez said. “The fact that we made it to the regional final says a lot, and I think it’s safe to say we’re all going for that national title next year. There’s no stopping us; we’re confident.”

A lot of the players will return next year as a vast majority of this year’s team were first-year students so they are looking forward to coming back and improving with what they’ve learned.

“We fought our hearts out every game,” Realeno said. “We knew what we were capable of. As a first-year here, it was definitely a good year.  There was a lot of learning lessons; we could definitely learn from that next year.”

About the Writer
Luz Silva, Editor-in-Chief

I am a second-year student studying Criminal Justice. I decided to join the Observer because I enjoy photography and am interested in sports journalism,...

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ECC Spartans end season as Region 4 Runners-up