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updated: 5/17/2013 9:57 PM

Carmel gets offensive, edges Fremd

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By Mike Garofola
Daily Herald Correspondent

Nobody could have figured these two defensive giants would concede 7 goals Friday night.

After all, No. 2 Carmel (19-1-1) had allowed just 8 before the start of its regional final at No. 7 Fremd, who themselves had given just 11 away to its opponents this season.

But the defensive buzz leading up to this game quickly disappeared, and would continue to do so until the final whistle signaled the end of 100 minutes of soccer, with the Corsairs outlasting the host Vikings (12-6-3) 4-3 in OT to capture a Class 3A regional crown and a place in Tuesday's Mundelein sectional semifinal against No. 3 Hersey, which defeated Stevenson 2-0.

"We knew we were in for a battle tonight, but there's no way I expected to see 7 goals and a chance for a few more before it was all said and done," said Corsairs coach John Halloran. "Fremd is so well coached, and they play hard and physical and really come at you. So even when Caitlin (Murphy) scored what I thought was that insurance goal to put us up 4-2 in the first (OT), it really wasn't over with the way they battled."

Halloran's all-state candidate Meegan Johnston scored the first of what were nearly identical goals when she curled in a left-footed shot from the far touchline into the far inside netting to put the Corsairs on the scorboard at 33 minutes.

Up until the Johnston strike, most of the play was fierce -- box-to-box soccer, complete with ferocious tackling, clever and imaginative attacking and fearless defending from both back lines.

"I thought for the first 15-20 minutes we had the run of play," said Fremd coach Steve Keller, "but we gave up that first goal because we allowed a great player to play to her strength, and we ending up chasing the lead then, and on two other occasions. That's not a good thing to be doing when your playing a quality opponent in a game like this.

"But they left it all out there tonight, and that's about all you can ask for in defeat."

Junior Mary-Kate Schiffer, who had a strong game all night up top for the Vikings, drew her club even at 40 minutes and back level again 10 minutes after Bri Carlson's 55th minute header off a well-aimed corner from Kayla Handel.

The final 20 minutes of regulation was exhilarating, as the speed of play and obvious urgency from both clubs to find the go-ahead goal kept fans rapt.

Just three minutes into the first extra session, Johnston unloaded another left-footed bending shot, this one kissing the post before ending up just inside the net.

Carlson was the architect for Murphy's goal in the 85th minute. But this lead wasn't safe either.

The Vikings benched howled when they thought Ashley McConnell was hauled down inside the box, but the multi-sport star drew her club closer in the 92nd minute to put a scare into Carmel.

"There were a lot of players who made the difference for us tonight," said Halloran, "and obviously we're happy to get out of here with a win against a team nobody really wanted to play this postseason after they went 8-1-2 in their last 11 games."

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