Gibault junior Karson Huels enjoyed everything about his team’s storybook 2017 season — except for the ending.
The Hawks’ unlikely quest to win the Class 2A state championship was stopped Saturday with an unsightly 6-0 loss to Solorio Academy that ended with acrimony at Hoffman Estates High School.
It is the first state championship in any sport for Solorio, a Chicago Public League school that opened in 2010.
Alejandro Sanchez and Ricardo Silva-Torres each scored twice, and Jose Solis and David Diaz also found the back of the net for the Sun Warriors (19-6-4), who completely dominated the action from the start.
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“They’re a really good team,” Huels said. “That’s probably the best team we’ve faced all year.
“They controlled the whole game; they were all technically sound and very skilled. We were just chasing the whole game, so congrats to them. They were the better side today.”
That was evident early on as the Sun Warriors created havoc in the Gibault end with slick dribbling and accurate passing.
Sanchez gave Solorio all the scoring it would need at the 27:55 mark of the first half with a tap-in goal. Diaz sprung Solis into the left side of the box with a perfect lead pass, and Solis quickly slid the ball through the crease to the back post.
Eight minutes later, Sanchez buried a penalty kick. Solis made it 3-0 seven minutes after that by beating Gibault goalkeeper Connor Olson with a 30-yard shot into the lower left corner of the net.
Olson, who was the star of Gibault’s 2-1 semifinal win over Wheaton Academy, was solid again, making eight saves. But he was overwhelmed by Solorio’s relentless attack and was one of three Hawks to be ejected during an ugly second half.
The histrionics began with 17:04 left when defender Robert Lugge was ejected for picking up his second yellow card for a hard foul in the box, resulting in a penalty kick being awarded Solorio.
The game was then halted for over five minutes as arguments raged from both teams. Two Solorio players received yellow cards, and Gibault coach Darryn Haudrich was ejected and escorted from the stadium.
Olson then stopped Solis on the ensuing penalty kick, only to have Diaz bury the rebound to extend the lead to 4-0.
Gibault senior defender Josh Hooser then was ejected with 11:36 remaining, and Olson was booted for arguing with 5:02 to go.
The Sun Warriors scored once with the man-advantage and once more while two men up. The Hawks (18-7-3) finished the game with only eight players on the field.
Huels, who led the Hawks in scoring this season with 18 goals, was asked what led to the meltdown.
“On the PK call, we asked the ref what the call was, and he said, ‘It doesn’t matter anymore, the game’s over,’” Huels said. “So I immediately went to the bench and told Haudrich that the ref said, ‘It doesn’t matter, the game’s over.’
“At the time, it was 4-0, so the game was obviously over. It’s a big margin, but we were still battling.”
Haudrich was unavailable to speak to the media after the game, but Gibault Principal Russ Hart did not condone the unsportsmanlike behavior during the game, which featured four red cards and nine yellow cards between the two teams.
“Some of the things that happened today in this final game, there’s no question that some of (the players) did not represent our values, and I am disappointed,” Hart said. “But as a whole this is a very accomplished team, a good group of kids, and next year we’ll be stronger and we’ll be better.”
With a core of returning players that includes Huels, Olson and second-leading scorer Logan Doerr, the Hawks figure to pick up where they left off during their first season in Class 2A.
“These kids have had an amazing year,” Hart said. “They bumped us up to 2A when we’re 220-strong, and to be able to compete with schools that have 1,000 to 1,500 kids is amazing.
“They’ve exceeded all of our expectations along the way. They’ve done a great job to get to this point. We’re still very proud of them.”
Huels said the Hawks were ready for the challenge after finishing third in Class 1A last season.
“We knew we should have won last year, and we thought we should have won this year,” Huels said. “Our goal was to get back here and win.
“We’ve had an unbelievable season. We accomplished so much. I couldn’t be prouder of my team and my coaches.”