Second-seeded Lake Zurich got its postseason off to a flying start, scoring 4 goals in the first half on its way to an impressive 7-0 victory over No. 3 Grant on Wednesday night in a regional opener at Barrington Community Stadium.
Next up for the NSC champs will be the host Fillies in the regional final Friday after the home side stopped Round Lake 9-0 in the first match of the day.
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Th early signs were not good for Grant (8-9-0) and coach Michael Kennedy, whose Bulldogs who went behind just five minutes into the contest thanks to the first of two goals from Molly Powers. Despite some desperate defending from his back line, Kennedy saw his club concede 3 more as the Bears (9-6-3) built a commanding 4-goal advantage heading into the break.
"We came out a little tight and nervous, and we just gave them too much room and space," said Kennedy. "And when you do that against a team like Lake Zurich, which has a lot of technical players, you're going to pay dearly for it in the end."
Jordan Jackson scored at 18 minutes when she steered her left-footed shot from the edge past keeper Ana Rodas. Five minutes later, teammate Nicole Rasiarmos made it 3-0, when, on the turn, she fired past Rodas with Claire Skowron getting the helper.
Powers completed her first-half double when her looping shot from long-range went up and over Rodas just as the center official whistled the first half over.
"Getting those early goals really helped boost our confidence, and after getting that lead, we played relaxed and simple soccer and got ourselves ready for Barrington this Friday," said the Bears' Meaghan Gelinas, who directed the LZ attack with flair and energy from her midfield spot.
"Meaghan has done a tremendous job for us all season," said LZ coach Mike Castranova, "and in those final days of the regular season when we played three games in three days, she willed this team to victories over Mundelein, Lake Forest and Libertyville to get us into the (NSC) championship game."
"This was a good game for us to build some momentum and confidence, and to get everyone in with some quality minutes. After a little bit of training tomorrow, we'll come out here and go after one of the best in Barrington."
The Bears put in two goals in rapid fire just after intermission, with Madeline Blasko and Danielle Tassi scoring before Blair Coughenour put the finishing touches on this match when she finished what Claire Skowron started.
Sophomore Eleanor Daleske came far off her line in the closing minutes to slow an onrushing Jenna Pecorini, who was put through twice, to preserve her shutout.