Pause is just prelude to another Naperville North victory
There are supposed to be no timeouts in soccer, but the Naperville North girls team won 2-0 at Naperville Central on Friday with the help of one super-sized pause in play.
Stormy weather Thursday suspended the game with 14:40 left in the first half. The defending Class 3A champion Huskies had defeated the Redhawks 3-0 on Saturday in the title game of the Naperville Invitational. But they were not pleased with how they played in the contest and were determined to change that in the rematch. That happened in the second half Friday.
"Saturday was not our best game ever," said Christa Szalach, who scored Naperville North's first goal. "At practice we fixed what we needed to fix, like holding on to the ball. Today we came out strong, regrouped and played our game."
The win gave the Huskies (13-0-2, 6-0) a share of the DuPage Valley Conference title and they will win the DVC outright with a win Tuesday against Glenbard North in the regular-season finale. It would be the first outright championship for the team's senior class. Central and North shared the title last season.
After the league race concludes the Huskies will turn their focus on the postseason as defending state champs.
"We have two more games. We just need to keep working hard and try and make another run at it," Huskies senior Cora Climo said.
The deadlock Friday was broken with 27:42 remaining in the game as Szalach tallied her 10th goal of the season from 5 yards out.
"Our outside midfielder, Claire Hilburger, gave me an awesome ball. She dribbled down the sideline and gave it a dribble kick. She kind of lofted it and I put it right in the middle of the goal," Szalach said.
With just 5:40 remaining in the contest, Climo made it 2-0 on a perfectly placed 35-yard free kick that went into the higher reaches of the net.
Sophomore Fiona Baenziger was the winning goalkeeper for the Huskies, making 3 saves.
"There were a lot of great individual efforts that turned into a team effort that limited Naperville Central's scoring chances," said Huskies coach Steve Goletz.
Naperville Central's record stands at 13-4-3, 5-1 after the game. Goalkeeper Abby Hershik was solid in facing intense Naperville North pressure on offense, especially in the second half and finished with 8 saves. She missed most of Saturday's game after suffering a leg injury.
Her best save came just a couple of minutes into the second half. She had to make a split-second save on a charging Zoe Swift and kept a grip on the ball as Swift was right next to her for a possible rebound.
"She's a brave kid. You know you have a goalkeeper when they are willing to put their body in front of the ball," said Redhawks coach Ed Watson.
Naperville Central closes out the regular season Tuesday at West Chicago.
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