ROCKFORD – With a quickly approaching McHenry defense, DeKalb's Mauro Talamantes said he knew he had to take a first-timer kick in the penalty area. He received Isaak Cordova's pass around in the center of the field and fired home the first goal in a 2-1 Barbs win Tuesday.
Talamantes deposited two missiles into the back of the net as No. 5 seed DeKalb (11-6-3) defeated No. 12 seed McHenry in a Class 3A Guilford Regional semifinal Tuesday.
“There was a lot going through my mind, because there was a couple players," Talamantes said. "I had to shoot it quickly, found the back of the net.”
The goal came on a scrum in the box in the 28th minute. Warriors goalkeeper Logan Freid came away from the net and Cordova fired a pass to Talamantes, who deposited a first-timer into the back of the net past the retreating keeper.
“I took a bad touch, but I never gave up," Cordova said. "Keeper lost it out of his hand and I just kept trying to make a play. I look up and I see Mauro right open on the penalty spot, just pass it and he does what he does best.”
Talamantes scored in the 71st minute as well, adding an exclamation point on a night full of Barbs near-goals. Talamantes added that the shot "felt amazing."
Cordova was the lightning rod the Barbs needed in creating goal chances.
The Warriors (8-10-4) struggled to facilitate an attack, choosing to sag three or four defenders at a time defensively against DeKalb's skilled forwards.
The Barbs had a look in the 63rd minute when Talamantes blasted a shot on goal that Cordova then put past Freid and into the net on the rebound, only for offsides to be called.
McHenry had its first corner kick seven minutes into the second half, but the kick flew over the mass of bodies in the box.
The Warriors' Nate Reinhart had a decent look in the box in the 69th minute as he dribbled the ball within several feet of the goal, before aggressive defense from DeKalb yielded a takeaway.
McHenry's Eric Lopez went on to score a goal in the 78th minute to increase the tension in the game's final moments before the Barbs preserved the win.
“We fought back and got that late goal to make it a game," Warriors coach Tony Caruso said. "I’m not disappointed. These guys played well all season, especially the last couple of weeks. We played some good soccer.”
Tuesday represented a chance to learn for DeKalb early in its postseason run.
“Sometimes at this point of the season, you learn a lesson and you home," Hamilton said. "Tonight we made a small mistake, took our foot off the gas pedal and we get to go on and see tomorrow.”
The first half was mostly categorized by strong attacks from the Barbs that did not yield equal results on goal, but Cordova's spark helped feed several Barbs looks.
“We've been practicing possession-based games," Cordova said. "That's something we needed to work on. We just wanted to keep hold of the ball more and especially finish our chances, which I feel like we could do better, but we got the job done."
McHenry loses eight seniors from this year's team, a group that had an up and down season, biut finished strong according to Caruso.
“We’ve got a good mix of underclassmen the can replace those seniors, but we’re going to miss the seniors obviously, but we’ve got a good group coming back," Caruso said.
By the numbers: The Barbs posted 18 shots and seven shots on goal. McHenry had five shots, two of which were on goal.
Beyond the stats: Cordova had a look at a header off a corner kick in the third minute that was saved by Freid. Minutes later, Cordova anticipated a pass and fired another one just barely past the right the goal. Those were just two of numerous goal-scoring chances created by Cordova.
They said it: “Isaak’s our blue-collar workhorse," Hamilton said about Cordova. "The kid just doesn’t stop. He keeps going and going and going. His motor is top-notch. He’s turning around, he’s creating some high-level chances.”
Up next: The Barbs will play 13 seed Hononegah Saturday back at Guilford at 3 p.m. in the regional final. Hononegah defeated Guilford 1-0 to make the regional final. The Barbs tied Hononegah 2-2 earlier this season.