Like a freight train with a full head of steam, once the St. Edward girls soccer team got its engine into gear during Saturday's Class 1A regional final at Westminster Christian, the Green Wave were hard to stop.
Even a slick field that provided early trouble couldn't derail the top-seeded Green Wave, who won their third-straight regional title, easily beating No. 3 Westminster Christian 7-0 in Elgin Saturday afternoon.
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But unlike other years, the celebration was short-lived since the Wave's focus is on a much greater prize.
"There's always unfinished business for us because we always try to do better," said midfielder Corey Lepoudre, who had a goal and an assist and called her team's effort scrappy. "We're so happy about this win, it's always great to be able to get this far. But, I think we're all just thinking about the next game, I think that's all we're thinking about."
That game, which will keep St. Edward at Westminster, will be a Class 1A sectional semifinal against Woodlands Academy on Tuesday at 4 p.m.
St. Edward (14-6-2) got there by controlling every aspect of the game as goalie Paige Dykstra didn't record a save since the Green Wave rarely allowed the Warriors an offensive possession. And although their passes weren't crisp and the goals lacked style, they outshot Westminster 25-0 and scored 3 goals in the first half.
Allison Kruk, Megan Kearney and Ashley Lopez all notched goals while Kearney had 2 assists. Kruk and Kearney assisted each other in the first half. Lepoudre assisted once on Chelsea Gnan's 2 goals in the second half while Gnan recorded an assist as well. Kimmy Smith put home the Green Wave's last goal. But it wasn't until the Green Wave settled down and took a more mental approach to things that the flood gates opened.
"The ground was a little slick in the beginning and the ball -- we weren't placing it right," said Kruk. "But we got the hang of it, we took that mental step and we overcame it."
St. Edward coach Tim Brieger went a little further with the Wave's execution.
"We had a couple of unforced turnovers in the back and we were trying to knock it around," he said. "We were missing our passes. A couple of our first touches when the field was still wet; we weren't playing so well. Once we settled down and wised-up, we fixed it."
And although Brieger knew Westminster (7-9-1) wouldn't be a team that would back down, after St. Edward chipped in 2 goals near the net in the first 14 minutes and Liz Meschewski looked like she re-aggravated her left hamstring and limped off the field late in the first half, Warriors coach Erik Schwartz knew his team was in trouble.
"I told the girls the past few days,' you're playing with house money, nobody expects you to win,' " said Schwartz. "Knowing when the first one went in, we kind of knew, 'well now they have the one they needed,' so any hopes of frustrating them or forcing them to play outside themselves was over."
Brieger praised Warriors' sophomore goalkeeper Savannah Dutcher, who accounted for 14 saves and made consecutive stops on a penalty kick and subsequent rebound in the first half.
"She was keeping them in that game," he said. "She's just got a wingspan, she's quick."
But the Wave will now look to a Woodlands team that played a common team in Elgin Academy. Woodlands beat the Hilltoppers 1-0 earlier this season but St. Edward had its way with Elgin Academy on Tuesday in an 8-0 regional semifinal win.
"We've got Woodlands on Tuesday, we're taking it one game at a time, we're not going to look ahead and take anything for granted," Brieger said. "I told the girls the next game is Tuesday at 4 p.m., and we deal with it after that."