Girls soccer: Glenbard East wins 8th straight

Glenbard East forward Maia Zatarski knows exactly how difficult it is to score on goalkeeper Zoe Romano.

It usually is a frustrating experience.

"At practice, we're always shooting on Zoe and everyone is like, 'you know what, even if she saves it, it's OK because she knows where we're shooting,' because she's always saving them," Zatarski said. "It's kind of discouraging when you're at practice and the goalie is always saving your shots.

"So then we've got to be in our heads like, 'Nah, she just knows where we're going.' But even when she doesn't know where people are going, she's got it."

Emily Petring can empathize. Romano stopped two free kicks from the Downers Grove South star and Zatarski scored on a penalty kick to lift the ninth-seeded Rams to a 1-0 victory at Tuesday's Class 3A Glenbard East Regional semifinals.

It was the eighth consecutive victory for Glenbard East, all of them shutouts. The Rams (15-5-1) will play third-seeded Downers Grove North, a 5-0 winner over Curie, in the regional final at 3 p.m. Friday.

Zatarski's penalty kick - the first attempted by Glenbard East this season - gave the Rams the lead in the first half but they were unable to pad the lead against the sixth-seeded Mustangs (8-9-1), who had nine players skip the game so they could attend prom.

Petring, a junior forward who recently committed to Coastal Carolina, unleashed two brilliant free kicks in the final 10 minutes, curving them around Glenbard East's defensive wall and toward the upper right corner of the net.

The first, a 30-yarder from the left wing, came with 9:45 left. The second was a 20-yard attempt from just to the left of the circle and was launched with 55 seconds remaining.

Both of Petring's shots went to identical spots and Romano ran over and made leaping saves on both, using both hands to push the shots around the right post.

"She's the show for them," Glenbard East coach Kent Overbey said of Petring. "She's a great player.

"I thought we did a good job on her. Those were her two best looks. Zoe, that's why she's there."

Indeed, the Catawba-bound Romano, a four-year starter, gets to some shots that many keepers do not. So those saves, while sensational, did not come as a shock to her teammates.

"I am not surprised at all," Zatarski said. "We believe in her always."

Romano believes in herself. She anticipated being tested by Petring.

"She's so talented," Romano said. "As soon as we got our scouting report, we've handled a lot of tough opponents this season and we knew she was going to be probably top 3 or 4 among the forwards that we've seen.

"I had to fully extend on both of those saves. Those are not necessarily the hardest to execute, but they're some of the hardest mentally because you know the ground is coming.

"At the end of the day, you watch the ball and if you get there, you get there. If you don't, it was a good try."

Downers South coach Chris Hernandez brought up six freshmen and sophomores to fill out the lineup. The only senior who played was goalkeeper Brooke Patton, who left at halftime.

"Unfortunately, we were missing quite a few players, but I'm proud of the girls that were here and stepped up," Hernandez said. "I'm proud of the younger ones who played well.

"We knew it was going to be a challenge today, but we knew we had enough to get the job done and we almost did."

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