In the Wheaton Warrenville South girls soccer offense, junior midfielder Alexis Jakuszewski's job is to create opportunities.
Jakuszewski thought she did just that with 14:18 left in regulation during Wednesday's Class 3A West Chicago regional semifinal against Schaumburg. Her free kick bounced free in the goal box, and Marina Tolczyk converted for a goal.
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After a brief conference between the referee and assistant referee, the goal was disallowed because of offsides. The game remained scoreless and headed to overtime.
"That's the worst, especially when you think we're done (soon) instead of 20 more (overtime) minutes to play," Jakuszewski said. "I guess it does take a little bit out of us, but also it motivates us because we all think we had a goal, but it's not. It just fuels us to go even harder to try to really get a goal that counts."
When Jakuszewski started another great passing combination in the first overtime, this one led to Anna Fank's overtime goal and a 1-0 victory.
Wheaton Warrenville South (11-8-1), the No. 5 seed in the Conant sectional, will play at 5 p.m. Friday at West Chicago for the regional title against No. 4 St. Charles East (14-4-5), a 5-0 winner Wednesday over No. 13 West Chicago (6-15). The Saxons (6-12-1) were seeded 12th.
Fank scored her team-high seventh goal this season with 4:57 left in the first of the two 10-minute overtime periods. After some passing teamwork between Jakuszewski and Rachel Conrady, she got the ball down the right wing to Caroline Holmes, who then fired a pass across the crease to the wide-open Fank.
"Rachel made a nice run in and I saw the space open and just played it to Rachel. It was just what we were working on in practice, which is getting the ball out wide," Jakuszewski said. "It's nice when hard-work runs pay off in the end. Everything flowed together, so now we know the hard work does pay off and helps us win."
The Tigers led 28-6 in total shots. Schaumburg senior goalkeeper Melissa Ardagh handled her first big test nine minutes into the game by charging and stopping Fank to the right of the goal before Danielle Reptowski and Kennedy Irmen cleared the loose ball.
Besides the offsides call, the Tigers had regulation shots go off the crossbar by Sarah Burns and then Tori Adomshick with six minutes left.
"I think (the offsides call) was a little bit deflating. You could see them kind of exhausted and frustrated opportunities earlier so that was another reason," WW South coach Guy Callipari said. "I'm just proud of them. They kept it going. They kept on plugging away and stayed with the game plan and found a way in the end."
Schaumburg had just two shots on goal but a couple of offensive flurries. The Saxons had three corner kicks in an early two-minute span of the first half and a couple of shots by junior Brittany Reinhart in the latter part of the half.
Less than three minutes into the second half, Reinhart's corner kick found Sam Tyler wide open on the far post, but her shot went wide. The Saxons' only shot in the extra 20 minutes was Reinhart's 25-yard free kick over the goal late in the first overtime.
"Our girls played an incredible game. I'm really proud of what they put forth and the effort they put forth," Schaumburg assistant coach Tracy Serafini said. "Wheaton Warrenville South is a great team. We probably played a little more defensive than we would have liked, but we had to take away some of their weapons."
Jakuszewski and junior Nikki Molino controlled much of the action in the midfield and started many quick transitions and counterattacks with Fank and Erin Madigan. Jakuszewski also had many long runs of possession down the sidelines.
"Honestly, it is rewarding. You can't score on everything and this is a team game," Jakuszewski said. "I think each run is not like a wasted run. It's really just practice for us to get the goal so when we finally do get the goal, it's rewarding for all of us on the team because we're all working and we all contribute in a way to that goal."
Goalkeeper Abbey Fuster and the starting defense of Alex Immekus, Adomshick, Allie Harvey and Julia Hindebrand earned the Tigers' sixth shutout this season. Hindebrand, a freshman, started at central defender in place of all-sectional sophomore Ava Fickle, who had to miss the game.
Each team had just five seniors and all five started for Schaumburg. The Saxons lost their eighth game by one goal this season and were shut out for the seventh time. Schaumburg lost to St. Charles East 2-1 in April.
"We lost a lot of really tight games. We were able to play some really, really good teams to one goal," Serafini said. "To take a great team like Wheaton Warrenville South to overtime, you can't be disappointed in the effort."