If Hersey and Carmel meet in the postseason, it will mean the stakes are much higher than they were Thursday afternoon in Arlington Heights.
Cast as the Nos. 2 and 3 seeds in the Mundelein sectional, the two highly rated clubs met in a nonconference contest on the turf at Roland Goins Stadium in Arlington Heights. Although the Huskies (10-3-3) came away with a 3-0 decision, neither side is taking much from it right now since Carmel was at less than full strength.
"John (Halloran) has got a great program, you can tell that from the way his girls handle themselves," said Hersey coach Brad Abel, whose club struck for all 3 goals in the second half. "And to think they were without three or four of their top players . . . well, I cannot imagine too many teams wanting to play them in the postseason.
Carmel (9-1-0 overall) can close in on an East Suburban Catholic Conference title if it can get past reigning champ Nazareth on Saturday at home.
"We pretty much accomplished what we wanted to today," said Halloran. "We got our starters about 30 minutes, then turned it over to our underclassmen, which showed well against a quality opponent. And now we turn our focus on Nazareth."
"Nazareth put an end to our chances of a conference title last year, and all of us are still a little bitter about that and are anxious to play them this weekend," said senior Maggie Avampato, who put in a solid 65-plus minutes before her day ended for the Corsairs.
Carmel is atop the ESCC table at 4-0-0, with Providence Catholic, Marist and Marian Catholic left on its conference schedule following the Nazareth match.
Hersey looked strong in the early exchanges, playing quickly and concisely, just as it did the previous night in a 5-0 victory over Rolling Meadows. But after keeping Carmel under pressure for the first quarter-hour, the Huskies' play fell off a bit, and they never found their form afterward, despite striking for 3 goals.
"We got off to a really good start, but we kind of lost our way after awhile," said Hersey defender Sara Magnuson. "Maybe it because of us playing in our third game in three days -- but that's not an excuse we should use."
Halloran brought on a handful of his young players as the first period came to an end, including keeper MacKenzie Burns.
Hersey's first first goal was a PK conversion from Lauren Gierman at 46 minutes.
Burns made a couple of confident saves in her 50 minutes of work. Her counterpart, Morgan Harris, was superb in her first serious test on a point-blank shot from Jenny Doyle just minutes after Gierman's spot kick.
Casey Weyhrich gave the Huskies a 2-goal advantage in the 73rd minute with the help from Gierman, Abby Wendell and Magnuson. Three three minutes later, an own-goal initiated by a marvelous ball sent in from Wendell closed things out jut four minutes from time.
Naperville Invitational: Barrington cruised past Loyola 3-0 in the quarterfinal round Thursday in a match played on the Fillies' home turf. Lauren Szczesny had 2 goals and Alex Avers 1 for the Fillies.
In other games, Fremd edged Downers Grove South 1-0, Palatine tied Evanston 1-1 but won on penalty kicks 4-3, and Leah Celarek had 2 goals for the second straight outing as Conant earned a 2-1 victory over St. Viator.