After struggling to find their rhythm in the three-week stretch that was the high school boys Premier league regular season, the Lo-Ellen Park Knights finally looked every bit the part of the contender that most expected as playoff action kicked off on Tuesday.
The sixth-place Knights knocked off the third-place Lockerby Vikings 3-0, advancing to the semifinals, scheduled for Friday evening at the James Jerome Sports Complex.
On a lineup that features as much competitive talent as anyone else in the league, Lo-Ellen received goals from Max McCue, Cameron Boland and Mubaraq Olanruwaji, with Rowan Mullin Santone registering the clean slate in net.
The final four is shaping up as an impressive quartet as the St. Benedict Bears trounced the Horizon Aigles 6-1 in the evening finale, with Giovanni Mastroianni scoring a pair of goals to lead the way.
Chipping in with one strike apiece were Jimmy Blanchard, Michael Reich, David Chavez and Jordan Pincivero.
"I think we were pretty confident going in," said Grade 10 newcomer John Tripodi.
"We just stuck to the coach's game plan. He told us exactly what to do — we just had to follow it." With the St. Charles College Cardinals earning a first-round bye via their record of 4-0-0, the semi-final crew is rounded out by the Collège Notre-Dame Alouettes, 4-1 winners over the Lasalle Lancers.
"I think the four teams that are left are pretty strong," said Tripodi. "I feel like the other three teams are as good as us, so we're going to have to play hard every game."
Based on the online SDSSAA schedule, it appears that St. Benedict will do battle with St. Charles on Friday, while Lo-Ellen and Notre-Dame tangle in the second half of the double-header.
The Premier Girls semis also are set for Friday, with the Marymount Regals and Lo-Ellen Park Knights taking to the turf at 2 p.m., followed by the St. Charles Cardinals and Lasalle Lancers.