Christian Liberty Academy lives to play another day.
The No. 4-seeded Chargers overwhelmed No. 5 Chicago Math and Science Academy 4-0 Friday afternoon in Arlington Heights to capture the first girls soccer postseason victory in program history, and in doing so, advance into the second round of the Class 1A state playoffs.
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Next up for coach Claire Comerouski's club is No. 1 seed Willows Academy on Tuesday afternoon at North Shore Country Day.
"We're exited about winning our regional opener, and to have played such a good overall game," said Comerouski, who was sporting a big smile after the Chargers enjoyed their biggest offensive output of the season. "Our defense with Katelyn (Garlick) leading the way was very strong today, and our offense created a lot of chances for most of the game. It's really nice to see how far the girls have come since the start of the season."
The Chargers (2-9-0) dominated from the outset, going in front for good at seven minutes when Julia Cosmos beat CMSA keeper Alanda Nunez to a 50-50 ball.
Nunez and Titans sweeper Jessica Soto combined to help keep the Chargers from adding to their lead with several quality saves and clearing efforts during the next 20 minutes, including a nice save on Maddie Bennett. But when freshman Alyshia Jeffrey doubled the Chargers' advantage at 33 minutes, it appeared the visitors had lost their energy.
"We've had a lot of trouble scoring this season, so to put into the net really helped give all of us confidence, and it also finally gave our defense the chance to relax a little," said Bennett. "Our ability to communicate and possess the ball lately has made a real difference in the way our team is playing now, and a win like this is exactly what all of us need this season."
The Chargers have 12 freshmen and sophomores combined on its 16-player roster.
Off the opening whistle to start the second period, Titans speedy striker Christina Flores broke free up the flank and fired her shot at the near post, where Cassie Swiderek got her glove up in time to turn the junior's attempt off the post and back at the freshman keeper, who easily pulled in the wayward ball.
Swiderek later saved an 18-yarder from Flores, but that was the end of the quality chances for CMSA (3-4-1), which could muster nothing else at the back line of Garlick, Carly Adelsperger and Lauren Colbert.
Against the run of play, Jeffrey made it 3-0 with Bennett getting the assist. Audrey Cerbin put the icing on the cake with her first goal of the season in the 80th minute.
"The first five or six games of our season were against very strong competition, but all we asked of the team was to continue to work hard, and make positive steps forward each time out. They have, and today they were able to enjoy a well deserved victory," said Comerouski.