Buffalo Grove made a convincing start to its girls soccer season with a 4-0 victory over visiting St. Viator on Tuesday afternoon in a bone-chilling season opener at Grant Blaney stadium.
The Bison never looked back after establishing a 3-goal lead inside eight minutes thanks to a pair of quick strikes from Kelli Zickert on either side of a goal from Skylar Groth to effectively end the contest before intermission.
"It was good to finally get outside and play after training for so long indoors, and even though the conditions become so bad (so) fast, I thought we did a pretty good job trying to play the way we like despite the weather," said Bison coach Pat Dudle, who returns nearly everyone from his regional championship club from a year ago.
While a few brave souls braved sub-freezing temps at the onset, it didn't take long for things to go from bad to worse when the wind picked up -- bringing with it near-blinding snow which made it nearly impossible to see from one touchline to the other in just a matter of moments.
"It wasn't the best of conditions to be in, but it was bad for both teams, and it didn't seem to affect (Buffalo Grove) in the early going," said St. Viator coach Mike Taylor, who will need some time to incorporate a handful of returning players from his 2A third-place state team from last year, along with several varsity newcomers. "Pat has a real nice ballclub this season, and we knew coming in they had three or four players who were good on the ball. We didn't do well with that in the beginning, and it cost us in our own end."
Zickert put the hosts in front for good at four minutes when she fired a shot off the glove of keeper Megan Mueller and into the back of the net. Two minutes later, Groth added to the Bison advantage.
"I am not so sure Megan didn't see two of those goals because of the snow, but she had a very good game nonetheless, and made a couple of very good saves along the way, to have a good showing for herself," said Taylor.
The Bison enjoyed most of the run of the play during the first period, allowing an early shot on frame at its new keeper, Sarah O'Connor, who at the half-hour smothered a dangerous free kick sent in from Liz Graff that fell just inside the box.
The Lions' top scorer from last season, Chloe Luthringhausen, forced O'Connor to save at the near post just minutes into the second period, and later, in the 64th minute, O'Connor stopped the senior striker once again.
O'Connor's backline mates Shannon Guercio, Sara Brawley, Kelly VandeMerkt and JayJay Lowery did well in front of the sophomore keeper throughout, keeping most of the play in front of them while staying organized and composed in their first match together.
Colleen Zickert rose up to meet a superb corner serve from Carly Brown to thump home the fourth and final goal of the day.
"Buffalo Grove is going to be there at the end of the season, and I know, once we sort things out, and get everyone healthy and where they belong, we will be also," said Taylor.