Soccer can be a cruel sport at times -- just ask St. Viator.
The Lions dominated play for 80 minutes Tuesday afternoon, but visiting Benet came away with the victory in East Suburban Catholic Conference play.
Michelle Morefield struck the game-winner in the 83rd minute to shock a big senior day crowd in Arlington Heights and give the Redwings (15-3-1, 7-1) a 1-0 triumph.
The win briefly kept Benet's hopes alive for a share of the ESCC title, while St. Viator dropped to 8-7 overall and 6-2 in the league. Carmel later defeated Fenwick 3-0 to clinch an outright league championship.
"It wasn't the prettiest effort of the season for us, but we still came away with the win and that's all that really matters to us right now," said Morefield.
"We came out so flat today, and we never really got much of anything going," Moreland said. "But sometimes games end like this, and I am glad it did for us."
The Benet junior guided in her close-range shot past a diving Samantha Stanley after collecting an assist from teammate Meagan O'Hara.
"It's a tough way to finish after having the play the entire game, but hopefully we learned a lesson from all of this," said St. Viator coach Mike Taylor.
St. Viator excelled early, winning nearly every first and second ball while keeping the Redwings in their own end and defending more than they'd have liked.
"We basically were missing all of our back line today due to a variety of injuries, and it showed at times," said Benet coach Bob Gros.
Speedy senior striker Chloe Luthringhausen consistently put pressure on Benet, and the Redwings had trouble possessing at midfield.
"We really should have put one or two into the back of the net in that first 15-20 minutes -- but we didn't, and it just helped keep Benet in the game that much longer," said St. Viator midfielder Erin Renee Murphy.
The Redwings weathered the pressure and got an extra boost from keeper sophomore Emma Hlavin, who had a double-digit saves effort. She made consecutive stops on Luthringshausen during the first 10 minutes of the second period, and another on freshman Lauren Kohn before watching Kohn's header skim off the woodwork. Hlavin alertly pulled the dangerous ball out of the air at the end line.
"Emma really saved us a couple of times today," said Benet captain Amanda Kaiser.
Morefield forced Stanley into a save just moments into the first session. Soon after, Hlavin turned away a shot on frame from Katharine Sexton.
But when Morefield ran freely to space just to the right of the Lions' keeper, this time she didn't miss.
"It's hard to figure how we can deny (Benet) any real good looks on our goal but still come away with a loss, but that's how it goes sometimes," said Taylor. "Now we regroup and look to finish strong at Fenwick on Thursday, and get ourselves ready for the playoffs."
The Redwings play at Hinsdale Central on Thursday to end their regular season.