St. Edward center-mid Corey Lepoudre admitted during Friday's Class 1A Westminster regional final that the Green Wave girls soccer team had a plan to avoid all the puddles on a soaked Warrior Field.
Unfortunately, maybe for dry cleaning purposes only, that game plan went quickly out the window.
"I think we started running through the puddles instead," said Lepoudre, who noted you couldn't power the ball through as you would on a dry field. "It was ok. We handled it pretty well."
And that St. Edward did. Despite the fact the field mirrored a giant slip-'n-slide and every girl had at least one mud stain on her jersey, it took St. Edward (22-2) 11 missed shots in the first 16 minutes to figure out the muddy surface in a 6-0 win over Westminster for its fourth-straight regional championship.
It also marked the second-straight title-game win over Westminster (10-9-1) in the all-inclusive Elgin regional and allowed the Green Wave to move on to the Richmond-Burton sectional Tuesday at 7 p.m. against Woodlands Academy in a rematch of last year's sectional semifinal which St. Edward won 6-0.
Friday's win for seniors Lepoudre, Monica Ramirez, Allison Kruk, and Emily Witt made them 4-time regional champions.
"I never imagined it," Leopoudre said of the feat. "It's a great feeling but of course we keep looking forward. Our next game is on Tuesday and that's what's on our minds now. This is awesome but we have to keep looking forward, keeping working for the next thing."
Forwards Chelsea Gnan and Alex Zeller led the Wave with 2 goals each in the first half while Ramirez and Jessica Puquirre each added goals in the second half.
Gnan scored on a PK in the 16th minute and tapped her second in a minute later on a feed from Megan Kearney. But where the game got away from Westminster was when the combo of Lepoudre and Zeller mixed it up.
Lepoudre's first feed from the left corner allowed Zeller to slide it through from point-blank range for a 3-0 lead in the 20th minute. The second feed was most impressive as Lepoudre's corner kick sailed in the air and Zeller came flying out of nowhere for the header and a 4-0 lead just 2 minutes later.
"It's kind of a Corey crossing thing I guess," Zeller said. "She's always got good crosses from the outside, she always finds one of the forwards."
Lepoudre thought to herself after the play: "Did that really just happen? Because that was amazing. I was just so happy. I was like 'I need to go hug her now' because that was awesome."
St. Edward had a 35-5 shot advantage on the Warriors, whose first shot on goal could have changed matters if Lindsey Vanden Bos' shot wasn't stopped by a diving Paige Dykstra in net. But the Green Wave held onto possession thereafter and the defense of Witt, Kathleen Duffy and Casey Gredzieleski didn't allow Westminster's Liz Meschewski an advantage throughout.
"Ooh, if we would have gotten that one! Oooh, it could have changed things. But it didn't happen," Warriors coach Erik Schwartz said. "We didn't start marking them until the 35-yard line and that was that. And we were hoping to pinch one early, we knew we'd get an opportunity at some point. We knew we couldn't let them score. We knew it had to be 1-0 for us to win."
Savannah Dutcher had 9 saves in net for Westminster while Dykstra stopped 3 shots in her goal in her 19th shutout, a St. Edward record.
"It's one piece of the puzzle. We can't be happy and settled here," Wave coach Tim Brieger said. "Now we've just got to get a little healthy. We're a little banged up and a little flu bug circling."