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updated: 4/9/2011 10:59 PM

Gardner's hat trick lifts Loyola past St. Viator

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By Mike Garofola
Daily Herald Correspondent

Laura Gardner struck for the hat trick to help Loyola (8-0-1) put an abrupt end to St. Viator's four-game winning streak with a 4-0 victory Saturday.

The Lady Ramblers earned a spot in the quarterfinals of the 2011 Pepsi Showdown girls soccer tournament at Olympic Park in Schaumburg.

Gardner and her teammate Corey Burns scored six minutes apart, to send the Lady Ramblers into the break with a 2-0 lead.

"We were beaten in every phase of the game today," said St. Viator coach Mike Taylor. "You hope that this is one of those wake-up calls every team needs, because right now we just don't look very good playing out there."

No. 3-seed Loyola, which plays No. 6 Plainfield North on Thursday, opened with far too much pace and energy for the Lions, according to Taylor.

The Lady Ramblers had little trouble finding their all-state striker Gardner, as the midfield duo of Carrie Schoeneberger and Caroline Zadina each located their teammate from the center of the park while distributing to others to keep the Lions' backline defending far more than they would have liked.

The Lions (5-3-0) rarely linked top scorer Taylor Skala. But despite just a few touches in the first half, the senior swooped in to gather a loose ball before shooting wide of the net guarded by two-time all-state Loyola keeper Carly Stevens.

Gardner headed a helper from Burns past Lions keeper Morgan Hess at 30 minutes. Then Burns doubled the lead at 36 minutes when her looping ball went up and over the outstretched gloves of Hess.

St. Viator mustered a chance at 51 minutes when Chloe Luthringshausen tested Stevens from 20 yards. But that was it for the Lions.

Gardner score in the 66th and 80th minutes to seal the win.

"The real test will be to see how the girls respond when we get back to training on Monday, and then on Wednesday when we see Carmel," Taylor said. "We have the confidence that they will, but it's up to them right now."