Casey Ulrich knows when it's time to score.
The Wheaton Warrenville South senior's 45th-minute header gave the Tigers a 1-0 victory Wednesday at the Class 3A York regional semifinals. It was her first goal of the season, and like last year, her first goal came in the playoffs.
"I was just kind of in the right spot at the right time," Ulrich said. "Coach told me to go in the back post, and thankfully I listened to him for once and went back there and was in the right spot."
The victory was the 300th for Tigers coach Guy Callipari, who took over the program in 1995, and his players helped him celebrate by giving him a postgame shower and three balloons, one in the shape of a 3, the others shaped in a zero.
"It was really exciting going for the 300th win, and we were all trying really hard, doing our best to try as hard as we could to get that goal in," Ulrich said.
"I don't think you ever come into it thinking that that's a goal of yours," Callipari said of the milestone. "I think if you do all of the things that you want to get done that that just happens naturally. I suspect it comes to the forefront as you get close, and everybody seems to remind you of it. I'm glad it's out of the way and we can get a clearer vision or focus moving forward."
Ulrich's goal was set up by a Natalie Jensen free kick from the right sideline. The ball bounced to the far side of the goal, where Callipari had told his left midfielder to be. Ulrich's header went into the goal despite the best efforts of a Glenbard West defender to keep it out.
"She did a nice job of just not panicking, focusing, get it back into the mix," Callipari said of Ulrich.
While possession was about even, the WW South defense kept the Hilltoppers (3-10-3) far from goalkeeper Abigail Fuster. Fuster faced just 3 shots on the night, all of them in the final 20 minutes, and made just 2 saves for the shutout. While the first save was fairly routine, the second was not.
As the scoreboard clock ticked into the final minute of play, Hilltoppers sophomore defender Kate Strieker stepped into a free kick from 35 yards out. The shot was headed on a line for the Tigers goal until Fuster leapt and tipped it off the crossbar. Alexandra Levin's shot off the rebound went just over the bar.
"It seems like this has been the story of our season," Hilltoppers coach Maciej Kusmierz said. "Just unlucky breaks defensively and not being able to get a goal offensively. It's unfortunate."
The sixth-seeded Tigers (12-5-2) will meet No. 3 York in Friday's regional final.
"We know we have a good road to playoffs, so we're just trying to take advantage of the opportunities we have," Ulrich said.