Glenbard North took a while to get going, but once the Panthers got on their game they were firing on all cylinders in their 3-0 win over Glenbard West in the Class 3A regional semifinal at Geneva.
"We started slow and we had trouble getting our possession game going," Panthers coach David Stanfield said. "We started to gradually get into the game, they had a couple of chances, but I thought overall we controlled possession, controlled the game. We said to the girls at halftime to connect the passes and get the basics right."
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Glenbard North (14-6) almost got on the board first when a long throw in from Ashley Pogue found Emily Dybowski on the back post, but a diving save from Glenbard West goalkeeper Caroline Leland kept it scoreless.
It was the first of 12 saves for the Hilltoppers senior, who was making her first start after five weeks on the sideline with a concussion.
"We have to give her a lot of credit, especially since she's been out with a concussion for the last five weeks…," Glenbard West coach Maciej Kusmierz said. "She's a senior, stepped up to the occasion, had two very nice saves and I can't ask for more from her."
The Hilltoppers' best chance came in the middle of the first half thanks to a free kick from Alex Levin from the corner of the 18-yard box.
Levin placed a ball at the penalty spot, which was initially saved from Panthers goalkeeper Ariana DePinto, but Alyssa Cantore got her head on the rebound, hitting the post and seeing her chance go wide.
With seven minutes to go in the first half, the Panthers found the opener.
Midfielder Rachel McDonnell played Emma Martinez into the box and the freshman finished her chance over an out-of-place Leland for the only goal of the half.
Leading 1-0, Glenbard North's possession game took flight in the second half.
"We talk at halftime about really working the ball around because that's our strength," Pogue said. "So I feel like our midfield really came together to keep the ball moving and the forwards did well to get the ball to create space in behind."
The Panthers continued to keep the Hilltoppers (7-9-1) in their own half, creating a couple half chances until a penalty call put Pogue at the spot.
With a little more than 12 minutes to play Pogue's long throw forced a push on the back from a Glenbard West defender to be called. Pogue stepped up confidently placing the ball in the right corner putting her team up 2-0.
The Panthers got their third and final when Martinez got on a break away only to see her chance saved from Leland, but Dybowski was wide open finishing the rebound with less than 10 minutes to play.