If Naperville North and Neuqua Valley had played first goal wins, fans would have missed a great girls soccer game.
A Zoe Swift goal 44 seconds into Wednesday's Class 3A Bolingbrook sectional final only whet the appetite for an action-packed game that turned into a 4-3 Huskies victory.
"I didn't expect 4-3 either, but when you sit back and you think about it, when you've got this many attacking pieces out there that both of these teams have, it's really not a surprise I guess when you think of it," Huskies coach Steve Goletz said. "Obviously, neither of us probably going into the game, Neuqua or us, wanted to say we'd give up that many goals. But I think it's obviously a testament to the attacking players that are on the field."
Neuqua tied the game in the 29th minute, heading in the rebound of a long Hope D'Addario free kick. The Wildcats then took the lead in the 46th minute when Brooke Ksiaszek raced onto a Kiley Czerwinski cross as it reached the far post.
But the undefeated Huskies' experience as defending state champions showed when they were trailing for the first time all season.
"As seniors -- well, graduated seniors -- we have to make sure the underclassmen keep their heads up, make sure we're together, we stay composed," said Swift, who was suffering from a stomach virus.
The Wildcats had all the momentum and threatened to add to their lead, but instead the Huskies tied the game against the run of play in the 60th minute when sophomore Abbie Boswell's flick-on header of a Huskies goal kick found Swift on the run toward the Neuqua Valley goal. Swift fended off two defenders before scoring from 14 yards out.
"We just got up a goal and gave it back," Neuqua Valley coach Joe Moreau said. "What can you do?"
"We've got a tough group of kids," Goletz said of his players' comeback. "You've got 13 seniors here, and a bunch of them have been through it for four years, and the state championship run last year we had some tough games. Neuqua was really, really taking it to us there in the second half."
The Huskies took the lead for good in the 68th minute on an own goal when Neuqua Valley (16-4-1) tried to clear a Cora Climo cross from the right wing. The Huskies took a 4-2 lead in the 71st minute when Swift, her back to the goal, headed in a Climo free kick from near midfield.
"Cora caught me in my eye, she placed it absolutely perfectly, you couldn't have asked for a better goal," said Swift, a University of Kentucky recruit who has 13 goals this year after an injury delayed the start of her season.
"Zoe's had a tough go this year, and obviously tonight she bounced back," Goletz said. "She played a phenomenal game. Not only just the goals that she scored -- and she scored 3 goals in a sectional semifinal against Neuqua is a big enough accomplishment in itself -- but her work rate tonight to hold the ball, keep us dangerous."
It was also a necessary goal, because the Wildcats weren't through attacking. They scored again in the 74th on Gianna Dal Pozzo's header that appeared to have been saved but was ruled to have crossed the goal line.
The Huskies will meet Waubonsie Valley at 4 p.m. Friday in the sectional final.
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