Girls soccer: Burlington Central headed to state after shutting out Wheaton Academy

Lightning delayed the start of the Class 2A Hinsdale South supersectional between Burlington Central and Wheaton Academy.

By the time the storms cleared shortly before kickoff, a rainbow could be seen over the Darien sky.

The rainbow surely had to mean a good sign for one team. That turned out to be the Rockets, who ended the Warriors’ unbeaten season with a 5-0 win.

The Rockets (15-8-2) now head to the state semifinals to play Crystal Lake Central at 1:30 p.m. Friday at North Central College. The winner of that game will face either Peoria Notre Dame or Triad for the title Saturday.

“It’s awesome to see how well this team has jelled over the course of the season. Because at the beginning of the season, we lost, like, five in a row,” said Rockets coach Jessica Arneson. “So it’s awesome to see them improve as much as they did and just jell, and they love each other, and they want to play more.”

Although the Warriors (18-1-3) were the better team in the first half and generated more scoring chances, both sides had zeroes on the board after the first 40 minutes. The Rockets got perhaps their best chance during that time when Mekenzie Rogers had an open shot shortly before halftime, but the kick sailed wide left.

Rogers also missed a shot wide left early in the second half. However, she made up for it when she scored the game’s first goal during the 56th minute. This came shortly after a near-miss involving a pass between Sydney Betts and substitute Ripley Hamell. Betts made up for that, too, when she scored in the 59th minute.

During the 61st minute, Rogers got another clean look and appeared to break through for a second goal. Although her shot was saved by Calla Brust, Ellie Elders scored off the rebound. That prompted a few Rockets fans to sing “Na na na na, hey hey, goodbye” to the Warriors.

If any doubt about the outcome remained, Rylee Butler erased it during the 66th minute. That’s when she scored on a penalty kick after the Warriors were whistled for a hand ball in the penalty area. Rogers ended the scoring with her second goal in the 71st minute.

“It feels great to get the support from my teammates and my family,” Rogers said. “And that’s enough motivation for me to keep going and doing my best every time I step on the field.”

The second half belonged to the Rockets, who had six corner kicks during that time and were able to do a wholesale substitution during the 75th minute. The Warriors never were able to hit the stride they did in the first half, during which they had four corner kicks.

“I wish we had capitalized on a few of our chances in the first half,” Warriors coach Maria Selvaggio said. “We had quite a few moments in the box, some corner kicks, some dead balls. I mean, we created opportunities for ourselves and didn’t capitalize, and that’s kind of how the game goes.”

Kenzie Lorkowski stopped a couple of long shots in the first half from Rebecca Schulenberg and Annika Vandervelde to keep the game scoreless en route to the shutout.

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