Sure, Naperville North won the Class 3A girls soccer championship last season, but it had never won the Naperville Invitational.
The Huskies (12-0-2) won the toughest regular-season tournament in Illinois with a 3-0 victory against cross-town rival and host Naperville Central.
“I’m glad that we were the first team to win it for our school, and I wouldn’t want to win it with any other group of girls,” said Huskies senior midfielder Christa Szalach, adding her surprise that Naperville North had never won the tournament. “It was a great win.”
“It feels obviously great for the girls and it’s great for our school,” Huskies coach Steve Goletz said. “This is something that we wanted to do. We didn’t play our best game tonight. We got some opportunistic goals, and I think we did a decent job of defending, didn’t give them too many dangerous chances and kept the shutout, which is important.”
Things went badly for the Redhawks (12-3-3) from the start. An Abbie Boswell through ball sent Huskies senior Zoe Swift behind the Naperville Central defense. Redhawks sophomore goalkeeper Abby Hershik came off her line aggressively and took the ball off Swift’s foot before the striker could get off a shot.
But Hershik was injured in the collision, and just 43 seconds into the game the Redhawks had to make a change at goalkeeper.
The Huskies scored their first goal in the 31st minute when Szalach unleased a rocket from 27 yards out.
“In any game you want to get a feel for the keeper, and especially since their keeper went down pretty early — it was pretty much the start of the game — you’ve got to keep shooting,” Szalach said while her teammates rushed off to get ready for Saturday night’s prom.
“The girls did a good job of getting shots on goal and we were fortunate that a couple of them went in,” Goletz added.
Naperville North scored again in the 38th minute when Boswell slotted a shot into the right corner of the net.
Cora Climo clinched the game with a 43-yard free kick in the 55th minute for the final goal.
Naperville Central almost broke up the Huskies’ shutout with a Veronica Ellis shot in the 74th minute, but Huskies sophomore goalkeeper Fiona Baenziger parried the ball off the crossbar to keep the shutout intact.
“Fiona did a great job today,” Goletz said. “She didn’t get tested much, but when she did, the save she tips up off the crossbar is a great save to keep it 3-0. Those are all good things. They’re all good experiences for the girls to have because regardless of the score Naperville Central is a dangerous team and they’re always going to try to get chances on goal. It was a good save for her and obviously a good save for her confidence to get a shutout.”
The Redhawks will get another shot at Naperville North on Thursday when the teams meet again in a DuPage Valley Conference match. They’re both also in the Bolingbrook sectional field.
“Thursday’s game will be just as important as today,” Goletz said.
“That’s all that matters,” Redhawks coach Ed Watson said, looking ahead. “And I’m happy with where we’re at right now. I would have liked to have seen if it had stayed 0-0 a little bit longer. I think we were doing some things that could have eventually led to a goal.”
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