Hat-trick heroes Sidney O'Keeffe and Leah Celarek helped No. 4 seed Conant roll to an 8-0 victory Tuesday afternoon against No. 14 Streamwood in a Class 3A regional opener hosted by the Cougars in Hoffman Estates.
Next up for the Cougars (11-4-5) will be South Elgin (8-8-2) Friday in the regional final after the Storm upset No. 5 seed Elk Grove 2-1 in the second match of the night at Conant.
O'Keeffe's route to the goal opened up in eighth minute after Celarek put the sophomore through. Some 10 minutes later, a marvelous piece of individual work from Bianca Madonia ended when the junior fired in from 22 yards.
"We looked a little rusty in that first half but stepped up our play in the second half, which is a good thing, because we have to come out right from the start in that final if we hope to compete," said Conant coach Jason Franco. "You could tell that Nos. 3 (Kim Jimenez) and 14 (Tawny Carroll) are dangerous players, but we focused hard on keeping the ball away from them, and except for a couple of looks we kept both of them under control for most of the game."
Conant's attack was constantly threateing on this first warm night of the spring, and the heat was becoming plenty uncomfortable for the Sabres after O'Keeffe made goals of back-to-back shots with the help of freshman Marisa Dizonno. Celarek added another 2 before the break to give the Cougars a 6-0 advantage.
"It was the worse-case scenario for us when we gave up those 2 goals and were forced to chase a team like Conant, which really doesn't concede much anyway," said Streamwood coach Matt Polovin. "Once we got behind, we struggled with our possession, and in turn were unable to get the ball to either Kim and Tawny. So our attack basically broke down."
Jimenez, who led the Sabres (11-9-3) with 27 goals, had just a few shots on frame during her 80 minutes, one of them coming in a sequence just before the break where Conant keeper Haley Anderson was called upon to save. Carroll also put a shot on goal, but Anderosn stopped it.
Celarek quickly scored her third goal at 49 minutes. Just minutes before the final whistle, Dizonno finished off the scoring with her first.
"This has still been a season to remember," Polovin said. "The girls set the record for most wins in program history, and Kim did the same with goals scored, so there's a lot to be proud of, regardless of the outcome tonight."