Geneva showed on Saturday in its victory over St. Charles East how potent its girls soccer offense can be at the start of a match.
Tuesday against Batavia in the Class 3A Hoffman Estates sectional semifinals, Geneva showed it could not only be devastating early in a match, but that it could sustain the momentum and then hold on over the course of 80 minutes.
The Vikings scored twice in the opening 11 minutes, raced to a 4-0 lead over the first 41 minutes and held on for a 4-2 win over the Bulldogs.
"We knew how they played so we knew we had to get it to the outsides and keep passing it," Geneva's Maggie Bodine said. "We knew we had speed up top, so we kept hitting it over them and letting them run onto it."
Geneva (15-8-1) won its ninth straight match and meets its third Upstate Eight River Division opponent in the playoffs when it faces the sectional's top seed -- St. Charles North -- on Friday.
"The girls were fired up," Geneva coach Megan Owens said. "They have a lot to prove. They're just fighting for the respect that they feel they deserve. We've now knocked off the 2 and 3 seeds in the sectional so they're pretty motivated by that."
Amanda Lulek got the Vikings off to a great start when she raced into the penalty area and scored in the third minute of the first half. Two minutes later, Lulek hit the post and Molly Axen's follow-up shot was saved. Lulek then turned and hit a shot that was saved and a further Lulek shot was cleared off the line.
As the match moved into its 11th minute, Megan Kozlow sent a strong pass up the left wing and Bodine took the ball and scored. Bodine capped a strong first half for herself and her teammates when she added a third goal shortly before halftime.
"It was really crazy but it was really exciting and I'm really happy we made it to the next round," Bodine said. "It's the best that we've done in four years, so it's exciting."
Directly from the second half kickoff, Geneva got a crucial fourth goal through Axen -- and Batavia's comeback mountain became Everest-sized. And the Vikings continued to surge for the opening minutes of the second half. Lulek fed Axen, whose shot was saved and then Hope Goodman forced another strong save from Batavia keeper Jenny Welday.
Batavia (13-5-3) refused to stop trying to get into the match, and the Bulldogs initiated a comeback in the final quarter-hour of play that showed their determination.
"When you watch the way they played us the first time, they were very assertive and very physical," Batavia coach Mark Gianfrancesco said. "We talked about that before we got on the bus that this was what they were going to do. The first half is their half, but the second half is where they start to wane a bit."
First Megan McEachern sent a pass from the left wing toward the right post. Anna Zeyen met the ball at that far post and redirected the ball into the net to end Geneva's shutout hopes.
That goal came with 14:02 left and just 2:28 later, McEachern latched onto a loose ball 25 yards from goal and lashed it into the upper right portion of the goal.
A core of seniors graduates from Batavia's program.
"Those girls will be missed," Gianfrancesco said. "They're really the reason why we had such a successful season this year."