In the end there wasn't a girls soccer team in Illinois that could beat Naperville North.
Even Mother Nature gave it a go before bowing to the Huskies, who completed an undefeated season Saturday night by winning their second consecutive Class 3A championship, beating Hinsdale Central 2-1 at North Central College in Naperville.
"I'm ecstatic," said senior midfielder Emily Bromagen, seemingly expressing the emotions of her entire team. "I'm so excited I can't even believe it. It's like a dream almost. It's almost as big of a surprise as last year. It's great."
"We're going to miss these seniors," Huskies coach Steve Goletz said. "Talk about making an impact on a program. Three state titles appearances in three years, it's pretty much impossible to do, and they did it."
It looked like it was going to be the Huskies' night shortly after the rain stopped and the game began. Naperville North (22-0-2) scored the first goal in just the sixth minute when senior Zoe Swift caught up with an Abbie Boswell through ball heading toward the Hinsdale Central net and finished.
"We started flat the last two games, and I challenged them tonight, in their last game, to come out and be the better team in the first 10 minutes, and I think they did that," said Goletz, now 46-1-4 with two state championships in his two years as Naperville North coach. "Hinsdale Central's a great team, and they've got great players across the board. There's really no one player that stands out, but they're all so solid on the ball."
Eleven minutes later Swift struck again, this time for her 17th goal of the season, getting to a Cora Climo free kick from near midfield and flicking a header into the goal.
"Zoe stepping up and putting two away early was huge for us," Goletz said.
Hinsdale Central (17-4-3), which tied the Huskies on March 16, wasn't ready to accept defeat. The Huskies defense had formed a protective cocoon around sophomore goalkeeper Fiona Baenziger all season, but the Red Devils finally cracked it in the 50th minute following a scramble in the front of the Huskies net. Megan Schick was credited with the goal.
"The girls showed that we're a quality side," second-year Hinsdale Central coach Michael Smith said. "We believed it all season, but we needed to prove it on the field to everyone else that we belonged here as well. We had some moments where we changed their style. We made them deal with us a lot, and they were on their heels, especially in the second half."
"I think we weren't feeling overconfident, but I think we got a little bit too comfortable," Bromagen said. "It really hurt us in the second half when we came out kind of slow and they were hungry for the ball. When they scored that goal, we kind of regrouped and we realized that we have to fight, so we came out even harder and we kept (the lead)."
The Huskies withstood the Red Devils' attack the rest of the way to lift the state championship trophy again.
"They are defending state champions and state champions this year for a reason," Smith said of the Huskies. "They had two chances, really, in the first half and they put it away. Zoe Swift is an amazing player for a reason. She's going to go on to a great college career (at Kentucky) for a reason. But even collectively, they play with a passion and a hunger of champions."
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