NEW LENOX — It took a while to bring things to a steady boil, but a blistering second half allowed Bradley-Bourbonnais to run away with a 5-0 postseason shutout of Reavis on Tuesday.
After surviving a scary 1-0 showdown with Sandburg on Saturday in a regional championship game, The Boilermakers were looking to come out fast and establish themselves early in their Class 3A Lincoln-Way Central Sectional opening matchup.
But it wasn't meant to be in the early going. Despite it being immediately apparent that their huge size advantage would allow them to create opportunities time and time again, they weren't able to convert any of those good looks into points early on.
"It was a little frustrating at first," Bradley coach Rohan Robinson said. "I think after we settled down and started playing everything came into place, but before we scored our first goal, the scouting reports we had said to keep it out of the middle and, for some reason we kept trying to push it into the middle anyway.
"Once we settled down and started hitting the corners and forcing them to come out and try to defend us, it got easier and easier and really opened up the game for our forwards."
The Boilermakers started to knock on the Rams' door with nine minutes left in the first half when Jacob Rodriguez handled a nice through pass and scored across the keeper from deep on his left side to draw first blood and grab a 1-0 lead.
After the halftime intermission, though, Nick Markanich came back out and kicked the door all the way off its hinges.
Markanich struck twice in quick sucession to start the second half, once by fooling the goalie up close and a second time by finessing a gorgeous shot nearly parallel with the goal line that floated over the charging keeper's head and spun into the upper-right of the net on a corkscrew hop.
With the way the Boilers defense had been utilizing its size advantage all game, a three-goal lead probably would have been enough. But, Markanich wasn't done yet.
After taking an errant thumb to the eye and leaving the pitch for a few minutes, the dangerous striker came back for another goal from the left side to expand the lead to four goals with just less than 24 minutes left to play.
"They played a high line today and I was just working off the back and trying to find my options over the top," he said. "We changed our game a little bit and were playing over the top and along the side more often and it just worked for us in the second half."
"[Coach Robinson] noticed that the wings were always open and it worked just like he said."
Efrain Davila scored a fifth time for BBCHS from an impressive angle after rebounding his own corner kick with 13 minutes to go to put the game on ice.
The win advances the Boilermakers to the sectional championship game and places them just one win away from the preliminary goal they set for themselves at the beginning of the season.
"We had a tough loss [in the sectional championship] against Andrew last year, a 3-1 loss, and I think we just came out a little flat and unprepared," Davila said. "But I think this year, we're going to be really good.
"We're more of a second half team, but having Anthony [Markanich], Justin [Fritz], Jake Rodriguez and Nick Markanich helps a lot because we can play with both feet very comfortably, and there's not a weak link on the team that I can't trust to pass the ball to. We just have to keep working on finishing each chance that we have.
"We haven't conceded many goals and I don't think we plan on conceding any more."