After playing 42.0 seconds shy of 120 minutes Saturday night, Naperville North's Christa Szalach was dog tired -- and ready to celebrate for hours.
"Oh, yeah, I have enough energy to celebrate," Szalach said. "I hope we do some team stuff tonight, just bond for the last time. I'm really going to miss the seniors and all."
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Because of Szalach's goal in the fourth overtime at North Central College in Naperville, the Huskies could celebrate a Class 3A championship, the first girls soccer state title for the Huskies (24-1-2) since 1988.
"Unbelievable," said first-year coach Steve Goletz. "I don't even know what to say other than the fact I'm so proud of the kids.
"St. Charles North played a phenomenal game. They gave us everything they had and they took it to us for I would say the full game, until overtime. And whatever happened in overtime, we got our feet. But a credit to the girls. They battled and battled and battled and battled. And that was us all year."
On the St. Charles North sideline, exhaustion settled in more heavily.
"I thought we did everything we were supposed to," North Stars coach Ruth Vostal said. "We shut down their key players. I thought we fought as a team. I was proud of them. You couldn't ask them to do anything else."
It was a game of momentum through the first 80 minutes, with one team or the other seeming to have an edge in possession for large chunks of time. Each team hit a crossbar in regulation, and St. Charles North (19-6-2) almost won it in the 114th minute, but Naperville North goalkeeper Allison Hitchcock dove to her left to push aside a shot from Lauren Koehl that seemed destined to ripple the net.
"It was amazing," Huskies senior Hunter Drendel said. "Allison's played great for us the whole year, always either getting shutouts or one in. She just pushed us so hard, and once she made that save and once we got out and the momentum changed forward."
A penalty-kick shootout seemed assured, but Drendel and Szalach found just enough life in their tired legs to stop the game short.
"It was a long time," Szalach said. "My legs are definitely feeling it, but it's kind of that mental aspect where it's your last game of the season and you're here. This is where every team wants to be. You just can't let down. I know tonight I'm done. I'll go back to club tomorrow, but this is what we came to do, so you've just got to push through."
Drendel laid off a pass to Szalach, who drilled a shot from 15 yards with just 42.0 seconds left in the fourth and final overtime.
"It was a perfect pass from Hunter," Szalach said. "Great work by her, and I just was able to put away in the net."
"Everyone had it written that they were supposed to win a long time ago and we weren't supposed to be here," said Vostal, whose team was hoping to win the first team state title in the school's 12-year history. "I look at it that we had great chances. Did we want to go to a shootout? No. We wanted to finish it in overtime."