Batavia handles Hoffman Estates in regional opener
The Batavia girls soccer team checked off the most important task on its to-do list Tuesday.
It beat Hoffman Estates 4-0 in the first semifinal of the Class 3A Lake Park regional in Roselle and will play another day.
The Bulldogs (12-4-3), seeded third in the Hoffman Estates sectional, got some momentum for Friday's 6 p.m. regional final against sixth-seeded Lake Park with a very strong showing on offense in the second half where it tagged the 15th-seeded Hawks (2-14-2) for three goals.
"We felt we needed to be more aggressive. In the first half, we were slow and in the second half we came out more aggressive," said Batavia junior midfielder Brittany Wahlen, who scored once and assisted on another goal.
The biggest challenge the Hawks put up against the Bulldogs was the play of their freshman goalkeeper Francesca Van. She finished with 15 saves as Batavia led in shots on goal 19-2.
The Bulldogs scored just 1:40 into the game on a shot by Grace Andrews. Then it pelted Van with five more shots over the next 6:55 and she stopped them all. The Bulldogs outshot the Hawks 8-1 in the first half.
"She has been phenomenal all year and has made saves that put seniors to shame," said Hoffman Estates coach Ralph Tooren.
The Hawks' best scoring opportunity in the first half came with just under 12 minutes until intermission when Hannah Brostoff headed a pass from Brittany Otto that forced winning Batavia goalkeeper Jenny Welday (two saves) to make her first stop of the game.
"We've struggled offensively. Finishing is not one of our strong suits. You need to capitalize on the opportunities that you create and we've not been able to do that," Tooren said.
Batavia started putting distance between it and the Hawks with 32:52 left in the game on Wahlen's goal which was a header set up on a pass from Megan McEachern. About four minutes later, Wahlen's throw-in found Olivia Callipari who put a shot in from 15 yards out.
"We created chances the first 10 minutes of the game. We just didn't finish them. There was more energy in the second half to create opportunities," said Batavia coach Mark Gianfrancesco
The Bulldogs struck for the final time with 17:01 to play when Alexis Bryl was set up by an Anna Zeyen throw-in.
"In the second half, we started communicating and started to get more chances because of that," Callipari said. "Once we got the bigger lead, we started connecting on more passes and it became more of a possession game."
Friday's regional opponents last battled in an Upstate Eight Conference crossover game on March 26 with the teams tying 2-2.
As Batavia moves on, Hoffman Estates looks to the future. The playoff roster had just three seniors on it and 12 freshmen and sophomores.
"I think teams started seeing this season that we are starting to be a force to be reckoned with. I'm definitely looking forward to the future if the players play year-round," Tooren said.
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