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Boys soccer: East Aurora advances to regional final

Updated: November 20, 2012 11:06AM

The miserable playing conditions — driving rain, gusty winds and chilly temperatures — didn’t suit Danny Miranda and his East Aurora teammates.

Their ability to overcome such adversity was much more to his liking.

Miranda scored the game-winning goal and assisted on a crucial insurance tally to lead the Tomcats to a 3-1 victory over Plainfield Central Thursday in a Class 3A Neuqua Valley Regional semifinal in Naperville.

Ironically, all three of East Aurora’s goals were scored against the wind in the second half.

“(The wind) knocks you off of your game a lot,” Miranda said. “You’re over here concentrating on getting the ball and the wind just eats up the ball the whole time.

“You’ve got to concentrate big-time, worry about your footing because usually you’re not worried about that; you’re worried about trapping the ball.”

After a scoreless first half in which neither side could gain much footing on the muddy field, the Tomcats (8-7-5) found their way, using short, low passes to keep possession and negate the effects of the wind.

East Aurora, the fifth seed at the West Chicago Sectional, struck first with 25:06 remaining when David Reynoso lined a cross from the right wing to Juan Garcia on the back post. Garcia headed the ball back across the crease to sophomore Julian Chavez, who headed it home. Chavez was making his varsity debut.

“It was nice to be able to pull up Julian Chavez from JV,” East Aurora coach Javier Hernandez said. “I couldn’t do it earlier because we had too many forwards at the varsity, but we had two guys drop out so we were able to move him up and it was a perfect fit for us. It was a great day for him.”

No. 12 Plainfield Central (13-9-2) tied it with 15:17 to play when Tomcats goalie Oscar Calzada made a routine save on a long shot by Miguel Sanchez but had the ball slip out of his hands. Sam Espinal pounced on the rebound to score for the Wildcats.

That seemingly gave the Wildcats the advantage with the wind at their backs, but Miranda dashed those hopes when he ripped a 20-yard shot into the lower left corner for his team-leading 10th goal of the season at the 9:10 mark.

“I turned around and I saw they were giving me space, so I was shooting it every time,” Miranda said.

“(That) is expected from Danny,” Hernandez said. “He’s one of those players that will define a game at any minute.”

The Wildcats had a pair of corner kicks five minutes later but failed to convert either one. East Aurora then iced the game with 1:55 left when Miranda made a nifty cutback move outside the top of the box and passed ahead to Chavez, who beat Wildcats goalie Tyler Badertscher to the endline before crossing to Francisco Delgado for another head goal.

East Aurora will be shooting for its third straight regional title when it faces 13th seeded West Aurora (10-7-5) in Saturday’s noon championship game. The crosstown rivals have not met since 2007.

“I’m an East Aurora alumni, so to me playing West Aurora is like a gift,” Hernandez said. “We’ve been waiting for it for five years, so we’re excited.”

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