The only way to stop the Neuqua Valley girls soccer team these days might be to send half the team somewhere else.
"It's great to be a part of it, to be honest," Wildcats junior Kiley Czerwinski said after her 2 goals helped the Wildcats to a 3-2 victory at Naperville North and a berth in the Naperville Invitational semifinals Friday.
"With winning comes confidence," added Neuqua Valley coach Joe Moreau. "It snowballs."
Once the Wildcats (8-4-2) scored they stayed one step ahead of the Huskies (5-5-2), who remained in hot pursuit of the Wildcats to the final horn.
Freshman Hailey Furio scored her first varsity goal in the 24th minute when Naperville North failed to clear a Neuqua corner kick.
"It is just exciting to play with all these amazing players, and once I got that goal it boosted my confidence on the team," Furio said. "It was bouncing around. No one was going to it, and I just laid off a little bit and touched it in."
Naperville North nearly tied the game in the 44th minute, but junior forward Abbie Boswell's blast hit the crossbar, bounced down to the goal line and out, never crossing the line. But that was the start of a fast and furious start to the half.
"Just in the second half we weren't satisfied with how we were playing and we really wanted to step it up, and I think that we did," Czerwinski said. "We had passes coming up from both sides, and I think that we started connecting off of them."
Neuqua Valley took a 2-0 lead in the 47th minute when Czerwinski scored her first goal much the way Furio scored hers.
"My goals would not have been possible without the amazing crosses from my teammates (Ryan Gareis and Lauren Ciesla)," Czerwinski said. "I just helped them finish them off."
"The three goals we let in are all three mistakes," Huskies coach Steve Goletz said. "We don't clear the ball on two restarts, and two second-chance goals, which is completely something that is out of our character. And like I told them, you don't need to be a great defender, you don't need to be a great midfielder to clear a ball. It's just wanting to do it. Wanting to do that and wanting to be first."
Naperville North finally put the ball past the Neuqua Valley goal line just two minutes later, junior Allison Svoboda taking a pass from Boswell and blasting a 20-yard shot into the upper right corner of the Neuqua Valley net.
Czerwinski had the answer, however, scoring in the 50th minute when a cross deflected off a defender right to her 5 yards from goal. She coolly sent the ball netward for a 3-1 lead.
"That was critical in this game, I think, just keeping the intensity to our side and keeping the pressure up," Czerwinski said. "We did not want to bring the intensity down. We wanted to keep the intensity on their backs."
The Wildcats needed that extra goal. Naperville North's Jen Fortman finished the scoring in the 77th minute, but the Huskies couldn't find a third goal despite a furious rally.
The Wildcats meet New Trier at 5 p.m. Friday at Naperville Central in the tournament semifinals.
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