Four years in a row, Rosary has qualified for an IHSA sectional. At least three other times in school history, the Royals have played sectional soccer.
But they hadn't ever won a sectional game -- until Wednesday. The icebreaker came emphatically, a 2-0 win over host Nazareth thanks to a pair of goals by freshman Quincy Kellett and stubborn team defense.
"That was really exciting," Kellett said. "We knew this was going to be a good team and it was going to be a tough game. So it's really exciting to win."
Rosary advances to Saturday's sectional championship to face Benet in a noon contest for a spot in the Class 2A Benedictine University supersectional.
"This is the farthest we've ever gone so that's exciting," Rosary coach Kristy Kane said. "I think we knew we had the ability to give them a tough game."
The victory also improves Rosary's record to 18-5 and ties the 1992 team for the school record in victories.
Kellett opened the scoring after 13 minutes of play when she took a Molly Piech pass and dribbled forward on the right wing and around Nazareth's keeper, who had come far out of her penalty area. Kellett slid the ball into the vacated net.
"I'm just looking at the goal," Kellett said. "(Piech's) passes are right on my feet. She's had some amazing passes right to me."
Rosary kept that margin through halftime and blunted most Nazareth attacks by defending deeply.
"They're just clearly an offensively strong team," Kane said. "Our defense has been our strength this year. We are not going to change how we defend. But we adjust slightly based on who we are playing."
But when the Royals moved forward, Haley Kilbride was among those taking the ball and spreading it quickly to the forwards. Piech and Kellett attacked the Roadrunners at high rates of speed and were frequently dangerous.
"We were really nervous because No. 8 (Gianna Milano) on their team, she's a really good player," Kilbride said. "She's really fast. Our main goal was to shut down the middle and get it to the outsides."
At the start of the second half, Rosary opted to defend its lead by attacking. For most of the opening 20 minutes of the half, the ball was in Nazareth's defending half -- and the pressure culminated in Kellett's second goal of the match in the 19th minute of play. She moved with the ball left-to-right in the penalty area and the ball took a kind deflection off a defender back to Kellett, who scored.
"After them dominating in the first half, we started to control the game in the second half, and that was great to see," Kane said.
Nazareth came closest to scoring in the final 10 minutes, but a corner kick that ended in the net was negated as the ball had gone out of bounds prior to the cross leading to the shot on goal.