Goals from Julia Garcia and Allie Webb on both sides of the half were enough to send visiting Maine West (2-1-0) to its second consecutive victory over host Wheeling 2-0 Monday night in a nonconference soccer match on the Wildcats' turf.
The Warriors' attack was on their front foot with the opening whistle, with the sophomore duo of Garcia and midfielder Rachel Kölling helping to spring the visitors to life during the first quarter hour, resulting in Garcia driving in the opener at 13 minutes.
"Having Joanne (Stanfa) still in a boot, and unavailable, we turned to Julia tonight, and even though she had a couple more chances to score, she still did a lot of very good things up top for us, as she used her speed to create, and open up space for others, and along with Rachel (Kolling) both were very good for us," said head coach Jeff Bishop.
"We had kind of a rough start to our season with a loss to Maine South, then an OK effort against Taft to win that game but it felt good to come out tonight and play well from the very beginning to help get our week going in a positive way," added the senior captain, Kelsey Webb, who along with two sophomores, Carley Hart and Bailey Room, in addition to freshman Elizabeth McCabe, kept the home side far away from their keeper, Katie Ehlers, who was called upon just a few times during her 80 minutes between the sticks.
The Wildcats (0-3-1) managed to put the first shot of the match on frame and at Ehlers, who saved an attempt off the shooting boot of freshman Jeanine Valera, but it didn't take long for the Warriors attack to come alive.
With Kolling shredding the Wildcats in their own end with several well-placed through balls, Yessica Reyes, Webb, and Kolling herself, each had a go at 'Cats keeper Sonia Valencia during the first 10 minutes, until Garcia was put through by Kolling, and finished with a quality touch from in close.
Alice Faraone nearly doubled the Wildcats' advantage three minutes later if not for a save from Valencia, who raced off her line to beat Garcia to a 50-50 opportunity from the rebound she allowed on the Faraone shot.
The Wildcats would finally settle into the game, and had a glorious chance to draw even at the half-hour.
That's when a strike from freshman Kelli Pietrowski was redirected on the way through and if not for some quick foot work from Ehlers, the well-placed shot may have found its way into the back of the net.
Garcia's second goal of the evening just afterward was disallowed by the offsides flag, setting up a frantic, energy-filled final six minutes before intermission arrived.
Ehlers would save a Yessenia Acosta drive, then moments later, Garcia was fouled at the edge, which gave Webb a free kick from 20 yards, which she curled around the wall, but at Valencia who would save with confidence.
Allie Webb added some insurance to the Warriors' lead in the 46th minute, and 8 minutes later, Valencia would turn around a trio of point-blank strikes to help keep the Wildcats' hopes still alive.
"We've got a busy week of soccer, and I was happy to see the girls come out and get an important win to get it started," said Bishop, whose club hosts Ridgewood today, before going on the road for a CSL match at Waukegan on Thursday.
For first-year head coach Dwayne Cruz, it's back to watching plenty of film, and more extra time training for his young, and inexperienced club.
"We told the girls afterward that all of us are in this to turn around the culture, and attitude of Wheeling soccer, and that they have the talent to do so, but we haven't see much of it yet," began Cruz.
"To be fair, we just changed our system from a 4-3-3 to a 3-4-3, and it's difficult to learn all of that in a short amount of time, but we know it will help us so much more with our attack.
"They told us they want to be the team that changes things here, and we have the confidence in them to do so. But they have to come tomorrow and get to work if things are going to be different for them."