Those who watched Friday afternoon's 2-0 Glenbard East girls soccer victory over host Willowbrook had to have wondered what it would take to break the scoreless deadlock that lasted just under 60 minutes.
It was simple speed.
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Rams freshman Brittany Paganucci took a pass from Bethany Wood and turned out the afterburners, sprinting past two Willowbrook defenders and depositing the ball past freshman goalkeeper Alexis Jones, who made 11 saves.
Ten minutes later, at the 10:23 mark, Jess DeJong made it 2-0 on an assist from Alex Ruffer and the Rams got comfortable in the driver's seat.
"Speed definitely broke this game open. Willowbrook is much improved from last season and they defended us well," said Rams coach Kent Overbey, whose team improved to 2-0-1.
Glenbard East threw everything it could at Jones and forced her to make 7 saves in the first half.
While Overbey was pleased overall with his team's performances, he wants Glenbard East to take better advantage of its scoring opportunities because against more experienced teams the chances might not be as frequent.
"You are not going to get 10 chances every game. We need to get better. We need to be more efficient," he said.
Rams goalkeeper Veronica Fairbairn earned her first shutout of the season and the 18th total.
Three of Jones' saves in the first half were particularly hard.
Just more than seven minutes into the game, Ruffer fed Paganucci and Jones made a save with Paganucci just inches from her for any possible rebound.
At the 20:15 mark Ruffer passed to Wood and her shot forced Jones into a diving save. With 3:40 until intermission, Jessica Whipple connected on a shot off a pass from Jordyn Fulton. Jones quickly made a save with Paganucci again right there for any rebound.
"Mentally, she (Jones) is very strong and that's a positive with that position," said Warriors coach Victor Marquez.
Willowbrook (2-1-2) has no seniors on the roster and in addition to Jones, started three other freshmen against Glenbard East.
"We're younger than most of the opponents we are facing. As far as the mental aspect, we're doing fine. The players don't worry, they just go out and play," Marquez said.
It's a doubleheader Monday for the Rams on the first day of the St. Francis Springfest at Olympic Park in Schaumburg. Glenbard East faces Benet at 9 a.m. and Jacobs at 12:30 p.m.
Overbey said that with the practice schedule disrupted this week because of the continued winter weather and Wednesday's game at Hinsdale Central canceled because of it, he's happy to see Glenbard East undefeated.
"We'll take the two wins over sectional opponents. I'm happy. But we need to continue to get better," he said.
Willowbrook returns to action March 30 with a noon home game against Wheaton Academy.