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updated: 4/17/2013 9:26 PM

Conant grabs Mid-Suburban West lead

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By Mike Garofola
Daily Herald Correspondent

So look who's atop the girls soccer table in the Mid-Suburban West.

After drawing with division rival Barrington earlier in the week, Conant pulled 3 points clear of the Fillies in the standings after a 7-0 victory over Wheeling on Wednesday night during yet another dreadful evening of weather which seems to have become the norm this spring.

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"Who would have thought we would be in front of Barrington at this point in the season, but I can say the biggest reason for our success has been our back line defense, which has played lights-out thus far," said Conant coach Jason Franco.

The Cougars handled Wheeling (0-6-0) in a driving rain for most of the 80 minutes of play.

"Our schedule gets real busy beginning (Thursday) and after that," said Franco, "so there aren't a lot of holes in our schedule from here on out."

The Cougars (5-2-2, 4-0-1, 13 points) begin pool play at the prestigious Naperville Invite on Thursday against Wheaton North. They continue Saturday with an important match against Geneva which will influence how the sectional seeds unfold.

"Drew Wentzel, Katie Lomas and Kayla Severinsen along with Stephanie Buga have been really strong in the back this season, and they have been mostly responsible for our team conceding just 3 goals in our first nine games," continued Franco. "We feel if we can keep things close, there's a chance for us to get a good result each time out."

It also helps to have a keeper such as Haley Anderson, who earned her seventh shutout of the season.

On a pitch made slick by long spells of heavy rain throughout the day, Conant quickly settled in. Lomas drove a long ball up and over Cats keeper Rosa Tejeda at 10 minutes, followed by a low driven shot from Leah Celarek that went just inside the far post a minute later.

Rachel Raymer delivered the Cougars' third goal at the quarter-hour mark when her 30-yard dipping effort evaded the gloves of Tejeda.

"We gave up 4 goals from long range tonight, which is something we shouldn't do if we defend the player and the ball a little bit better," said Wheeling coach Darren Llewellyn.

The visitors, who worked and ran hard throughout, found their footing after the Raymer goal and kept Conant from creating quality chances at Tejeda for the next 15 minutes.

Then Celarek was put through by Sidney O'Keefe and finished with a lovely touch to give the Cougars a 4-goal advantage at 33 minutes. Alyssa Altosino delivered yet another 30-yarder into the back of the net just before intermisson.

"We're going to need built our attack, and not rely on one pass and then long shots on frame this weekend against Wheaton North and Geneva if we hope to do well at the (Naperville) Invite," Franco said. "That's something we didn't do much of in the first half. And when we got a lot of minutes for others in the second half, we never really did much of it then, either."

Raymer struck for her second goal in the 72nd minute, before an own-goal in the late stages finished the scoring. O'Keefe initiated the last goal when sent in a low attempt after sharing a short corner with Lomas.

"We continue to see improvement each time out, but one constant has been (that) the girls play hard, from start to finish while playing with pride and honor, which is the way we want them to represent themselves, the program and the school," said Llewellyn.

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