It's been awhile since St. Charles East's girls soccer players have won a tournament -- in-season or postseason. So it took the Saints a bit to get set up for photographs following Saturday's 3-0 victory over Geneva, a win which earned the hosts the title in the Rose Augsburg-Drach Invitational.
The Saints collected the tournament plaque, individually accepted medallions then had to head toward the Norris Stadium grandstand, to the people with cameras.
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All this was done with huge smiles on their faces -- and beyond snapping a lengthy drought in their own tournament, the Saints also continued their strong start to the 2013 season. The Saints finished 2-0-1 in the invitational and finished ahead of second-placed Naperville Central, which defeated Schaumburg 1-0 in the evening's other match.
"Some of these girls were asking me how long it's been," St. Charles East coach Paul Jennison said. "It's been so long that some of these girls were in middle school when we last won this -- or grade school."
The victory also continued St. Charles East's strongest start to a season since 2007. The Saints are 6-1-1 and have matches Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before a brutal run of matches comes to a close.
"It is absolutely tremendous," Jennison said. "What an achievement. I'm so proud of them. This is an historical tournament and there are quality teams in it every year. I really hope this is the sign of things to come."
Playing into the strongest win of the season to-date, the Saints took control of the first half and scored a pair of goals. The scoring combination was the same for both goals -- Shannon Rasmussen providing the crosses and Amanda Hilton providing the goals. The first goal came from a right-sided corner kick 12 minutes into the match and the second came from a left-wing Rasmussen cross four minutes later.
"It's nice as a coach," Jennison said, "when you can walk up and know that you don't have to give a big motivational speech or do the rah-rah stuff that sometimes goes in one ear and out the other. These girls are very self-motivated and very self-driven."
One of the key moments came two minutes after Hilton's second goal when Geneva's Taylor Williams hit a long-range shot that moved in the wind before Kendra Sheehan made a finger-tip jumping save.
"She's the most underrated player in our squad," Jennison said of Sheehan. "There is no doubt about it."
Carly Pottle settled the match when she scored in the third minute of the second half. Geneva's Amanda Lulek shot into the side netting 10 minutes into the second half with her team's best chance to break the shutout.
"You know, we didn't show up for the first half," Geneva coach Megan Owens said. "We clearly showed up in the second half. We played with a lot of fight and a lot of heart in the second half. But we lacked that in the first half."
For Geneva (3-5), Saturday's result ended an 0-4 week and the Vikings' next match is a Tuesday home match against powerhouse St. Charles North.
"Like I told my team, we have all the pieces to be a successful team," Owens said. "We didn't graduate that much. We don't have any gaping holes. We aren't missing a goalkeeper and we aren't missing any defenders and we don't have no one who can score. But we're just not working together."