You do have to go back a bit to find the last time St. Charles East defeated Geneva in a girls soccer contest -- to a time when none of the current Saints were in high school.
But the Saints won on Tuesday in the first of two contests between the teams this week, a 1-0 victory thanks to an Allie Arvizu headed goal from a Darcy Cunningham corner kick 6:15 before halftime.
"I had one right before that went off my head and barely missed and I was so upset," Arvizu said. "I was like 'the next time, it's got to go in.' We wanted this game for so long."
On a chilling night on a bumpy pitch at Norris Stadium with hard tackling making time and space on the ball in short supply, the Saints proved their temperament was right for this Upstate Eight Conference River Division contest. The hosts (4-1, 2-0) came out strongly, completed more passes, pressed the Vikings (4-2, 0-1) and dominated possession for most of the match.
"This is a massive result," St. Charles East coach Paul Jennison said. "You can't ask any more of them. We knew coming in that Geneva was a quality team. They're always a top five or top 10 team in state. We knew we had to come out and take it to them and not let them dictate the play."
The Saints also created chances. Shannon Rasmussen and Arvizu combined midway through the half, with Arvizu forcing a Maggie Bodine clearance off the goal line. Cunningham rounded the defense 10 minutes before halftime and forced the defense to scramble away the ball.
But for the second consecutive match, a Cunningham cross was met by a Saints forward and headed into the net.
"She's got some great crosses," Arvizu said. "She makes some great runs and she's really a smart player. She knows where to run, where to put the ball and she puts it across great."
Behind a goal at halftime, Geneva regrouped but St. Charles East came close to scoring again when the match resumed. First Cunningham headed over a Rasmussen cross and then Carly Pottle shot over the crossbar and when Amanda Hilton hit a shot from distance directly at Geneva goalie Samantha Hauser, the Saints looked in control again.
"We've got a disciplined group," Jennison said. "They understand what the coaching staff's trying to get across. We're only going to be successful as a team. We've got to work as a team and within a system. Tonight was a very well-executed plan."
But the Vikings were also full of effort. Twelve minutes into the half, Courtney Lardas dribbled into the penalty area and had the ball taken off her feet by Saints keeper Kendra Sheehan. Lardas then raced back all the way to the halfway line to tackle back the ball for her team.
"I think we struggled a little tonight to match East's intensity," Geneva coach Megan Owens said. "East came out really hard and they played a good solid game and they outworked us a little bit. It was a back-and-forth game. It wasn't our best game, but I think they just outworked us a little bit."
But despite efforts like that, St. Charles East held solidly on defense. Annie Waldoch shot wide with 20 minutes to play was Geneva's last solid effort at goal.
"We had our opportunities," Owens said. "We were a little slow to pull the trigger. But it's real early in the season. It's our first time playing on grass and I think that contributed a little to it. But the good thing is our next three games are on this field, so we'll be comfortable with it by the time we leave."
St. Charles East had one more strong effort to extend its lead with 15 minutes to play, but first Pottle and then Anna Corirosi had shots blocked by Geneva defenders.
Both Geneva and St. Charles East are in the midst of four-match weeks. Each team begins participation in the Rose Augsburg-Drach Invitational on Wednesday. That three-match tournament ends on Saturday when the Saints and Vikings meet in a 7 p.m. rematch.