Girls soccer: Vernon Hills outlasts St. Viator on PKs, reaches sectional final

For both the St. Viator and Vernon Hills girls soccer teams, they would have to endure a nearly one-hour wait to play their Class 2A sectional semifinal at Deerfield High School Wednesday due to the opening contest between top-seeded Crystal Lake Central and No. 5 Lake Forest going to penalty kicks.

After 100 minutes of play, St. Viator and Vernon Hills would have to deal with that same predicament after a pair of scores in the final five minutes of the second overtime left things tied at 1-1.

And thanks to those heroics from a pair Vernon Hills players — forward Ana Lukyan and goalie Carly Sides — the No. 7 seeded Cougars (11-7-2) earned a 2-1 overtime win (3-2 in penalty kicks) to advance to Friday's sectional final.

Vernon Hills will play Crystal Lake Central (19-2-2), a 2-1 winner over Lake Forest (4-3 on penalty kicks) on the Paul Adams Field pitch.

"The end of that game to take a PK (score) which just kills the soul in the last five minutes (of overtime) and say how much we have left in the tank and for these ladies to respond with a 30-40 yard bomb just to to give us that tiny bit of life is everything," Vernon Hills coach Cory Smith said.

That emotional roller coaster for the Cougars began when Monica Correa connected on a penalty kick in the 95th minute after a Lions player was tripped in the box to put St. Viator (18-6) ahead 1-0.

Then Lukyan drilled a 35- yarder in the 99th minute past Viator's Kyli Ziebka to set the stage for the penalty round.

In PKs, Cougars goalkeeper Sides saved 3 of 5 attempts before getting the call to attempt Vernon's fifth attempt in which she booted the ball past her Lions counterpart to punch the Cougars’ ticket to Friday.

"That's (what) we're about," Smith said. "They play for each other. They get after it and by the time we got to PK's, it's whatever we're gifted is bonus time. We absolutely love it."

When Lake Forest sophomore forward Maddie Cummins tied the score at 1-1 in the 50th minute of game one, it would stay that way after another 50 minutes of play setting up the penalty kick round where senior forward Brooklyn Carlson's goal on the Tigers’ fifth penalty attempt sent CLC back to Deerfield on Friday.

Carlson's heroics came after fellow senior Jillian Mueller's previous attempt that would've settled matters was snared by Scouts senior netminder Sarah Constantine for her 10th save of the game.

Mueller had tallied the first score of the game midway through the first half for Central, a 2A third-place finisher a spring ago.

Lake Forest (8-9-1) got scores from defenders Ava Walsh and Hanna Sands to knot things up at 3.

"Last year we had a great run, but this year we knew it wouldn't be the exact thing," Carlson said.

"We knew (that) we had take every game time by time. That's what we're going to continue to do. It's a great feeling."

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