Karina Rosales' magnificent late goal stunned No. 9 seed Fremd and sent No. 8 Batavia into the Addison Trail regional final Friday against top-seed St. Charles North.
The junior's stunning 22-yard blast helped her club earn a hard fought 1-0 victory Thursday afternoon to end the hopes of the Vikings (7-11-1).
"I don't know if it was my best goal ever, but it sure was the best of the season for me and my teammates," said Rosales with a smile after her winner in minute 78. "During that first half, I always seemed to have two defenders on me, so I really didn't do much. But at the half, coach moved me into the middle and Megan (McEachern) up top, and for most of the second half we kept the pressure on and created some really good chances."
Batavia coach Mark Gianfrancesco was pleased that determined play ended up serving the Bulldogs.
"I guess when you make a change like that and it works, you look like a genius," he said. "But the fact was Karina and MacKenzie (Foster) helped us match the physical play Fremd showed in the middle, while Megan gave us a lot of energy and pace up top to help keep them under after the break."
This semifinal picked up where it left off from Tuesday, as dangerous weather stopped play in the 24th minute. After both sides took Wednesday off while Batavia (12-8-1) celebrated graduation, play resumed on a delightful afternoon in Addison.
The Vikings enjoyed the run of play, with Jessica Kopec, Karolina Cholewa, Katie Zara and Mary-Kate Schiffer the key figures in a strong quarter of play to finish off the first period.
And although much of the play belonged to the Vikings, on only two occasions did coach Steve Keller's club conjure up a serious attempt at Bulldogs keeper Jenny Scara.
"It was kind of the same old story for us," said Keller. "That first 15-16 minutes today, we created chances but didn't execute and finish them. We had the run of play, and found a way to get behind them but just weren't sharp enough in the final third.
"Then we have a brief defensive lapse, and allow No. 23 to have enough time and space, and she found the back of the net."
Kellie Halloran fired over the bar after Schiffer gave the sophomore a nice cross from the right side at 27 minutes. Three minutes later, Zara collected a loose ball at 20 yards, but her attempt went wide of the post.
Just before intermission, Zara's looping ball over the top split the Bulldogs along the back, but Scara beat Schiffer to the 50-50 ball just at the edge.
After the break, Alison Grimm's tackle on Schiffer likely saved a potential 1-on-1 possibility, but after that sequence in the 47th minute, the Bulldogs steadily began to find their game.
With Rosales dominating the middle of the park, the Bulldogs' work rate all around began to increase as well. And her teammates, now playing with more confidence, went close on three occasions before getting the eventual winner.
Lexi Slome had a go at 59 minutes, and Rosales put Tori Renfus through but a strong tackle from Julia Leonard ended any chance of a shot on frame in the 66th minute.
The Bulldogs' Rachel Reinecke was awarded a free kick, but her well-hit low drive around the wall was hauled in by freshman keeper Kelsey Stone.
Foster and McEachern were the co-creators on Rosales' goal, which came just in the nick of time to help the Bulldogs advance.
"Karina deserved that goal for all of the hard work she gave us leading up to that amazing shot of hers," said Gianfrancesco.
On the other side of the pitch, Keller consoled several of his despondent players before finishing up his last postgame interview of the spring season.
"It's always tough to lose that last game of the year, but I was very proud of the effort and the fight they gave today," he said. "That's really all you can ask of from your players and team."