After getting a glimpse of what was possible for Grayslake Central girls soccer team, goalkeeper Kajal Chokshi personally made sure that vision was realized Saturday.
Chokshi made 3 penalty kick saves in the shootout, along with a couple of other key stops in the final 10 minutes of regulation.
“I felt like something was going to happen,” said Chokshi who made 9 saves and recorded her ninth shutout of the season. “All the girls and these coaches believed that we could do it.”
That self-confidence helped third-seeded Grayslake Central get past No. 6 Lakes 1-0 (5-4 in a seven-round penalty kick shootout) in the Class 2A Grayslake Central regional final.
Grayslake Central (11-5-2) next faces No. 2 Lake Forest (9-2-6) in the Lakes sectional semifinal at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Chokshi made the last of 3 stops in the PK’s on the seventh kick. She also thought she gave up a goal in the 71st minute, but Lakes had it negated by an off-sides call.
Chokshi also saw the Eagles’ kick strikes off a post and barely clear the crossbar during the final minutes of regulation. But her best effort was a clearing save on a high shot that seemed a certain goal.
“We really wanted to show our coaches and each other that we had it in us,” Chokshi said. “We worked so hard, and this was the time to show it. Even though we’re a young team, and we showed it. Especially against Lakes, a team that we lost to last year. It’s a great victory for the seniors.”
Grayslake Central has won regionals two of the last three years, but it’s the first time the Rams have been able to get past Lakes.
The loss stop a four-year run of regional victories for Lakes.
The Rams have bounced back after a couple of disappointing late-season losses to Hampshire and Crystal Lake Central in the Fox Valley’s Fox Division race.
“We lost a couple of heartbreakers in conference,” Grayslake Central coach Mike McCaulou said. “We’re back, and things work out the way they’re supposed too, if you work hard.
“Give credit to Lakes, because Lakes is a great program and (coach) Kevin Kullby does an outstanding job. They have a lot of tradition as well, and it’s nice to beat a good program like that.”
Chokshi had a strong defense in front of her, led by Erin Boban, Rebecca Wollmuth, Anna Sizelove and Savannah Mudd.
Lauren Spaulding scored the final kick for the Rams with the other kicks from Mudd, Karleen Gomez, Emily Werfel and Kayley Larson.
“You just have to envision the ball going into the back of the net,” Spaulding said. “You can’t have any doubt in your mind. At first there are nerves, but we practice (penalty kicks) in practice all the time. I’m used to it — I don’t think about it.”
Lakes (9-10-1) got successful kicks from Mikaela Brown, Maya Schmitt, Nicole D’Ambrose and Sarina Umlauf.
The Eagles had their best scoring chances late in the second half, along with a couple others in the overtime.
“It’s all moments,” Kullby said. “(Grayslake Central) had moments to score. We had many moments to score. You create the opportunities, and then it’s up to us to make them good.
“It’s a tough way to lose, in kicks, especially with the way we played. You’d like to think that we deserved better. Grayslake Central defended well and kept us away from scoring.”Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.