Lake Zurich repeats as NSC champ
Molly Powers saw that time was slipping away in the North Suburban Conference girls soccer championship game.
So, in a determined effort, she made the most of the moment.
Powers struck for the game-winning goal in leading Lake Zurich past Vernon Hills 1-0 in overtime on Tuesday night in Lake Zurich.
The Bears won the NSC title for a second straight time over the Cougars.
Powers scored the goal in the 82nd minute after taking a cross from Meaghan Galinas.
On the play, Powers' initial shot was saved. But the rebound came right back to her, and she made good on the second attempt.
Both teams had played 80 minutes of scoreless soccer.
"I knew that we didn't have much time left in overtime," said Powers, who got her third goal of the season. "We had to get one, and it was a big deal. We had to push through and do anything to get one.
"I just followed it up and decided to go for it. You don't get a second chance a lot of times. It was pretty lucky and it felt good. I thought I had it on the initial one. It came out and I knew it was the last chance we had."
Lake Zurich (8-6-3) also needed a determined effort just to make it past its NSC Lake foes and into the championship. Throught it all, the Bears vowed to never quit and outwork each opponent.
"The girls fought all the way through," Lake Zurich coach Michael Castronova said. "Vernon Hills has a great team, and they put up a great fight. They were a really good team to go against."
Lake Zurich can turn to recent history as an ally in their repeat title drive. Last year's title run, coupled with comeback victories over Mundelein and a win over Libertyville last Saturday, helped the Bears attain a certain level of confidence.
"Our experience last year has helped us," Castronova said. "They learned and knew what to expect. I believe that this group rose to the occasion at the biggest times. These girls are used to adversity, and they bounced back from it. It's been a great conference run."
LZ keeper Eleanor Daleske recorded her sixth clean sheet with 5 stops on Tuesday night. She had help from defenders Grace Eisenhuth, Maggie Tuckey, Meagan Bens and Kaitlyn McCurley.
Vernon Hills (9-4-2) had its 11-game unbeaten streak stopped with the loss. Though they'd have preferred a different outcome, the Cougars were plreased with about everything else.
"It was nice to get back here again," Vernon Hills coach Vince DeLuca said. "Congrats to Lake Zurich. It's hard to repeat.
"I thought we deserved to be on the field with them. (Lake Zurich) was the better team and we played our hearts out. I thought we represented the Prairie in a positive way. This was a measuring stick for our team for where we are at right now. We had chances, but they had more."
The Cougars' Brianna Bahlmann played a key role on defense as the last line of defense. She showed her leadership in the back by communicating with her teammates and clearing several dangerous balls.
"It was a tough game and a little bit of a letdown," said Bahlmann, who will be playing at Appalachian State (N.C.) in the fall. "We've got a good shot to far in the state tournament (in Class 2A), and we can see what we can do.
"I wanted to be the one to back up the rest of the defense, so our goalie (Allison Clatch) can depend on the entire back line."
The Vernon Hills back four includes Bahlmann along with Ashley Favia, Courtney Corrado and Amy Andrea.
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