After playing the last regular-season game of his high school career, Oak Lawn’s Mohammad Farraj was carried off the field on the shoulders of one of dozens of Spartan fans that stormed the field at Argo.
The senior forward was the hero Tuesday night, recording a hat trick as Oak Lawn completed an undefeated regular season in historic fashion with a 3-1 South Suburban Red win over the Argonauts.
"I’m so happy," Farraj said. "I’m so excited. I got the three goals because our team works together so well. We’re like a family. We did this for our school."
Oak Lawn (19-0-1, 10-0-1) clinched its first Red title since 2008 and beat Argo (12-3-1, 9-1-1), which was denied in its bid to repeat as league champion. It was the Sparatans first-ever win over the Argonauts.
"The conference championship was our goal all year and we knew we had a chance," Oak Lawn coach Nate Joiner said. "An undefeated regular season, though, I never even imagined that."
Farraj got the Spartans going in the 27th minute. After drawing a foul just outside the box, he took the free kick and rolled a shot inside the left post. Argo goalkeeper Saul Munoz (5 saves) got a piece of the ball, but not enough as it trickled over the goal line.
Farraj then scored twice in a span of less than three minutes early in the second half. The first goal, with 30:05 to go, came off a beautiful combination play as Cody Figus passed to Giovanni Barragan, who found Farraj cutting down the left side of the box. He finished with a shot that went off the inside of the far post and into the net.
Farraj completed the hat trick, collecting a loose ball and firing a quick shot from 30 yards past Munoz.
"We came out to play the first 10 minutes of the second half, then we fell apart defensively," Argo coach John Gaytan said. "Oak Lawn is a great team and they deserve to be our conference champion."
Abel Cavada recorded five saves for the Spartans and the back line of Sadiq Mohamad, Adam Baniewicz and Sulieman Ali helped keep Argo scoreless until Armando Gallegos’ goal with 2:40 to go.
"It’s a great feeling," Ali said. "We stayed focused all year and played together, and we got great support from our school and community."
Oak Lawn, seeded second in the Class 3A Lincoln-Way Central Sectional behind also-unbeaten Bradley-Bourbonnais, will open the postseason Oct. 19.
"We came to play every game, not just the big games, because we wanted this championship," Farraj said. "No one could beat us all year. Now we’ve got to keep it going in the playoffs."
Illinois Lutheran 11, Universal 0: Ryan Cayton’s three goals sparked host Illinois Lutheran (17-3-2) in the Class 1A regional semifinal.
Bloom 9, Rich South 0: Jovanny Ruiz netted four goals for Bloom (18-4-1, 9-0 SAC).
Crete-Monee 5, Rich Central 0: Tyson Spencer scored twice to lead Crete-Monee (10-9, 6-3 SAC).
Shepard 3, Tinley Park 0: David Lepak put in two goals for Shepard (11-6-4, 6-3-2 SSC Red).
Andrew 25-25, Thornton 11-10: Kaileen Herman’s 10 aces led Andrew (8-17, 2-1 SWSC Red).
Lemont 25-25, Eisenhower 9-12: Lauren Penigal had eight assists for Lemont (17-10, 11-0 SSC Blue).
Lincoln-Way Central 25-25, Thornridge 11-3: Cassidy Wyman served 12 aces for Central (10-18, 3-1 SWSC Red).
Lincoln-Way West 25-25, Bradley-Bourbonnais 13-20: Kirsten Leitshuh had eight kills and Michelle Allen added 17 assists for West (17-11, 4-0 SWSC Red).
Marian Catholic 25-25, Carmel 17-22: Temitayo Thomas registered nine kills and three blocks for Marian (17-9, 3-3 ESCC).
Marist 25-15-25, Joliet Catholic 12-25-16: Molly Murrihy had 33 assists and Savannah Thompson put down 14 kills for Marist (20-7, 4-1 ESCC). Natalie Davidson chipped in 22 digs. Meg Sliwa had 11 digs and 10 points for Joliet Catholic (13-14-1, 2-4).
Providence 25-22-25, Loyola 19-25-16: Caitlin Stephens and Melissa Flynders (11 digs) provided 13 and nine kills, respectively, for Providence (19-9, 3-2 GCAC Red).
Queen of Peace 25-25, St. Francis de Sales 17-9: Maddie Fogarty contributed 11 digs for Peace (9-15, 4-0 GCAC Blue).
Shepard 25-25, T.F. North 14-13: Clare Flynn had 13 assists and Meghan Rohe added 12 digs for Shepard (14-12, 8-3 SSC Red).
St. Francis d. Calumet 25-11, 25-11, 25-16: Brenna Perinar picked up eight kills and Leah Alles added 18 digs for St. Francis (16-7, 10-1 CCAC South).
St. Xavier 25-25-25, St. Ambrose (Iowa) 21-18-23: Rory Manion’s 10 kills powered St. Xavier (16-12, 8-3 CCAC North). Courtney Joyce added 18 assists and 12 digs.
Trinity Christian 25-25-25, Governors State 9-19-22: Kacie Stoll had 11 kills and Sarah Bushrow contributed 17 digs for Trinity Christian (14-11, 7-3 CCAC South).
Awards & honors
Praise for Alles, Leet: St. Francis’ Alles was named CCAC Women’s Volleyball Defender of the Week on Tuesday, while Lewis’ Michael Leet was named GLVC Men’s Cross Country Runner of the Week.
Steve Millar is a freelance writer for the Daily Southtown. Freelance writer Josh Krockey contributed.