On one of the chillier midseason evenings in recent memory, Rosary broke the ice in Wednesday's girls soccer match with West Aurora in emphatic fashion.
The Royals, needing to win in order to claim the West Aurora Invitational title, scored twice in the opening seven minutes, were never tied and roared to a 6-2 victory.
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"We were passing the ball really well those first 10 minutes or so," Rosary coach Kristy Kane said. "That was really nice to see. I think it was probably our best 10 minutes of soccer this year."
Rosary (5-1-2) attacked from the opening kickoff and took the lead in the sixth minute of play when Lizzie Kelly found Quincy Kellett, who shot into the net.
Less than one minute later, Kellett provided the assist with a right wing cross to Kaitlin Johnson, who headed Rosary's second goal.
"Our coach told us that last year (West Aurora) be played us in our tournament and they beat us," Kellett said. "So if we beat them today, we'd be beating them in their tournament, almost like revenge."
Johnson, just returning from a concussion, scored a pair of goals for the Royals.
"We had her at forward," Kane said. "She was a center mid and you tend to have to head the ball a lot more at that position. But she's a tough kid. Even though she's had the concussion, she's not going to back down and not head the ball into the net if she has the opportunity."
By the time Johnson scored her second goal, the match was decided. And the moment when the tide of the match shifted was late in the first half.
The sequence started with West Aurora's first goal. Sam O'Brien raced through a gap in Rosary's defense, took a blistering shot that Royals keeper Lauren Frasca saved. O'Brien collected the rebound and scored.
Rosary regained a two-goal margin 18 seconds later. Immediately from the kickoff, the Royals got the ball to Kellett on the right wing. The sophomore moved infield slightly, then rifled a shot from a tight angle that went into the left side netting.
"We were having some fun out there tonight," Kellett said. "I thought it was going out. I tried to turn my hips. I kicked it and it went in. I was just trying to keep it in play and maybe get a play in front of goal."
Fully recovered from a basketball injury, Kellett was a threat every time she touched the ball.
"That's why you love what (Kellett) can do out there," Kane said. "She can be a game changer. She's just a great kid."
That made the score 3-1 at halftime and West Aurora's best chance to win the tournament title was gone. The Blackhawks needed to win or tie in order to retain the title.
"They just outplayed us," West Aurora coach Laura Wagley said. "They wanted it more. I don't think we were ready to play."
A year ago, West Aurora (4-5-1) counted winning its tournament title as one of the season's highlights.
"It was one of our goals, to win this tournament and the Rosary tournament, because we won them last year," Wagley said. "We wanted to go back-to-back in both."
Ten minutes into the second half, the Royals broke quickly. Johnson and Kellett were involved in the buildup play, but a far post run by Olivia Cozzoni led to the senior scoring a far post goal, then celebrating wildly with her teammates.
Johnson's second goal came next, another sweeping move that involved Hailey Kilbride and Kellett before Johnson scored.
"I feel like at the start of the year, our defense was really strong," Kane said. "It's nice to see the offense start to pick it up a little bit too."
West Aurora reduced the deficit to 5-2 when Reilly Kulakowski passed to Daniela Bueno who moved between defenders to score.
"I say over and over that it doesn't matter how much we're down by," Wagley said. "We keep playing for 80 minutes and I'm proud of them for that."
Taylor Gibson closed the scoring with five minutes to play.
West Aurora is in the midst of a five-match week.
"We have tired legs," Wagley said. "We're just beat up. We lost a couple of girls from the East Aurora game. (Kulakowski) has a huge contusion on her leg. Sam (O'Brien) is beat up and Daniela (Bueno) is beat up and we're not a very deep team."