Hawks soar to state soccer final

Gibault’s Wes Degener (12) is cheered on by teammates after scoring one of his two goals on the night Friday.

The Gibault Hawks are in a familiar position.

With a dominating 3-0 victory over Chicago’s F.W. Parker, the Hawks are headed to the state championship game for the fourth time in school history. Gibault won in its previous three appearances.

Junior Andrew Reinholz opened the scoring in the 25th minute with a header. The assist came off a phenomenal free kick from Frank Mantia. The Hawks headed into the half with a 1-0 lead.

Gibault opened the second half on fire. Six minutes into the half, senior Wes Degener unloaded a bomb that settled just under the crossbar, making it 2-0.

With four minutes remaining in the game, Degener sealed the deal with his second goal of the night, scoring on a breakaway following a perfect pass from junior defender Ethan Shields, who is in the midst of a stellar season on the back line.

While the Hawks scored three goals, the story of the night was the defense, which once again completely shut down a high potent offense, and made things easy on goalkeeper Austin Gregson. After a good chance in the early minutes, F.W. Parker didn’t put together any serious challenges. Gibault’s suffocating defense has given up just three goals in six playoff games.

“They’ve been locked down all postseason,” said coach Matt Reeb.

The Hawks will look to win the school’s fourth state title Saturday night against Herscher (23-4-1), who defeated Genoa-Kingston in Friday’s other semifinal.

“It’s exciting to be playing for a championship,” said Reeb. “They (Herscher) look pretty good, but I like our chances.”

The title game is at 5 p.m. at the Corn Crib in Normal. Fans can stream the game or get updates on the IHSA website.

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