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Back-to-back Final Fours for Blue Devils

Warren's goalie RJ Hill (30) prevents goal from  St. Charles East.
| Michelle LaVigne ~ Sun-Times Media

Barrington 10/30/12 Warren's goalie RJ Hill (30) prevents a goal from St. Charles East. | Michelle LaVigne ~ Sun-Times Media

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Sandburg 2, Fenwick 1 (ot)

Warren 2, St. Charles East 1

Stevenson 2, Glenbrook North 0

Naperville Central 1, Edwardsville 0


(At Lincoln-Way North High School in Frankfort)

5 p.m. — Warren vs. Sandburg

7 p.m. — Stevenson vs. Naperville Central

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Updated: December 30, 2012 1:23AM

The two goals in 55 seconds Warren scored midway through the first half of Tuesday’s Class 3A Round of 8 supersectional match at Barrington was typical Blue Devil soccer.

Holding powerful St. Charles East scoreless in the second half — an effort anchored by goalie R.J. Hill’s near-miracle save — was not.

In the end, it took offense, defense and goalkeeping all working together to secure Warren’s thrilling 2-1 triumph that earned the Devils their second straight appearance in the state Final Four tournament at Lincoln-Way North High School in south suburban Frankfort.

Warren will play Sandburg at 5 o’clock. Last year, Warren lost twice on the final weekend of the season to finish fourth.

This weekend, they’ll try to finish what last year’s team started.

“To go downstate once in a coaching career is special, but to go down in back-to-back years is extremely special,” said Warren coach Jason Ahonen. “It’s because of our senior leadership and playing solid in the back ... you’re not going to win at this level unless you have a great defense.”

After conceding a goal in the 13th minute, Warren got even in the 22nd minute when Nick Wegrzynowicz headed home a chip into the box by Daniel Szczepanek.

Less than a minute later, Sczepanek’s flip throw-in went to Sean Kirwan at the top of the box, and his hard grounder was deflected home by Karl Bappert.

“Sean ripped a shot. The keeper was off-balance and I was able to direct it with my foot into the corner,” said Bappert.

That was all the scoring, thanks to unheralded sophomore keeper R.J. Hill.

In the 64th minute, St. Charles East’s top scorer went 1-on-1 with Hill, and the goalie stoned him, coming off his line in the box and taking the ball off his foot.

“I was just coming out and trying to make myself big,” Hill said. “You just try to take up as much space as you can and give him no angle to shoot.”

The last 16 minutes, Warren held its ground, as Hill finished with seven saves.

“Coach said at the start of the season we had a huge bull’s-eye on our back,” said Bappert. “When we lost some games, that bull’s-eye got smaller and people started doubting us, but we knew we belonged here.

“We made a checklist at the start of the season. This was another check.

“There are two checks left.”

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