Camille Dela Cruz knew she let her Burlington Central girls soccer teammates down with 14:32 remaining in regulation Saturday night.
The junior failed to convert a penalty kick with the Rockets tied with Crystal Lake Central, 2-2.
She made up for it in the third overtime. Dela Cruz ran onto a ball over the top of the Tigers’ defense from Courtney Andrew and scored the game-winner with 7:14 left in the third overtime to give the Rockets a 3-2 victory and the Class 2A Burlington Central regional championship.
“I had to get it back for my team, for the seniors, for coach, for everyone,” Dela Cruz said.
The regional title is the first in eight seasons for the Rockets (16-6-2). They advance to the Belvidere sectional to play Prairie Ridge (14-6-1) in the semifinals at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
“This is just the first step,” said Burlington Central senior Lindsey Puccio, who tied the match with 16:29 remaining in regulation on a penalty kick. “Everything’s coming together.”
The Rockets took a 1-0 lead 1:37 into the match. Freshman Rachael Griffin finished a cross Cali Andrew.
Burlington Central had a defensive letdown after the goal. The Tigers (9-8) got a pair of goals from Madie Edwards in less than a 1:30 span to take a 2-1 lead. Madie Edwards headed in a corner kick from Stacey Wolfgram with 35:34 remaining and finished a cross from Katie Beck with 34:09 left in the first half.
After a handball by the Tigers in their penalty area, Puccio converted the penalty kick just under CL Central goalkeeper Caitlyn Dayton with 16:29 remaining in the second half.
Two minutes later, Dayton stopped Dela Cruz’s penalty kick. Dayton finished with six saves.
Puccio and Dela Cruz each hit the crossbar in the first overtime. In the second overtime, Rockets goalkeeper Caitlin Solberg had to come off her line and make one of her nine saves on Edwards, who found space around the 6-yard box.
Dela Cruz finally put an end to the match early in the third overtime and find a little redemption.
“Nice ball from Courtney and a beautiful little touch (from Dela Cruz) to make up her missed PK,” Rockets coach Michael Gecan said. “That’s what you need out of a great player.”Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.