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Boys soccer: East Aurora beats West Aurora in regional title match

East Aurorhead coach Javier Hernandez came up with idehelp get his team more involved raise awareness about breast cancer withdistrict’s

East Aurora head coach Javier Hernandez came up with the idea to help get his team more involved and to raise awareness about the breast cancer within the district’s Hispanic community. | Sun-Times Media file photo

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Updated: November 22, 2012 6:50AM

Back on Aug. 28, nobody knew what was in store for East Aurora’s boys soccer team.

The team had fallen to 2-2 that night with a new head coach, Javier Hernandez, who was just put in charge of the program about a month earlier and a star player in senior Abraham Kanneh who was deciding between playing club soccer and coming back for his fourth varsity season for the Tomcats.

Kanneh came back, and the rest is history.

Playing crosstown rival West Aurora for the first time in five years in Saturday’s Class 3A Neuqua Valley Regional title game, the Tomcats cruised to their third straight regional crown with a 4-0 win. East will face top-seeded Naperville Central, a 2-0 winner over Waubonsie Valley Saturday, in Tuesday’s 4:30 p.m. Class 3A West Chicago Sectional semifinal.

“This is fantastic,” Kanneh said. “You don’t know how I’m feeling right now. It’s awesome. I guess my decision to come back didn’t hurt me. I couldn’t leave those guys. I started off my freshman year playing varsity. Why leave my senior year?”

Kanneh started the scoring for East Aurora (10-7-5). After a yellow card was issued to West Aurora goalie Alex Guillen, Kanneh put in the penalty kick with 31:54 left in the first half.

The fifth-seeded Tomcats kept the pressure on the rest of the half. In addition to their three first-half goals, they had five shots on goal and three other quality scoring chances. Salvador Ibarra’s long cross connected with the head of David Reynoso for the second goal at the 24:58 mark, and Abraham Gomez put in the rebound of a Danny Miranda shot to push the lead to 3-0 at the half.

In the second half, the Tomcats put the finishing touches on the win when Kanneh fired an assist from 20 yards away to Miranda, who put it in at the 19:21 mark of the second half.

“I might be the key player, but there are a lot of good players here too,” Kanneh said. “My job is to create. The ball I played Danny, I didn’t even see him. He just called me and I knew where he was and I turned and played it. That’s a great goal.”

The season came to an abrupt halt for West Aurora (10-8-5). The Blackhawks upset fourth-seeded Neuqua Valley, 1-0, in the semifinals to reach the title game and overcame a 3-6-1 start to the season.

“This is not an indication of what our team is,” West coach Joe Sustersic said. “This is just a bad game. I’m not going to remember this team for what they did today. I’m going to remember them for what they did before.”

Before starting to prepare for the Redhawks, Hernandez — an East Aurora graduate and longtime youth coach — was enjoying this win.

“It’s great, I don’t even know what to say,” Hernandez said. “I’m so happy. It’s a complete circle. I trained these boys when they were nine, 10 years old. To get to train them their senior year, that doesn’t happen very often.”

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