Ellie Burzlaff sparked a 3-goal first-half surge to help give visiting Harvest Christian a 3-0 victory over Christian Liberty in a Northeast Athletic Conference match Tuesday afternoon in Arlington Heights.
The freshman striker led a rampant Lions attack that put 3 goals into the back of the net within 11 minutes against the hosts, who had been struggling to get a full strength.
"We've been dealing with a bunch of injuries, so we've had to move some players around, but even with this loss today, I am still real proud of the effort the girls gave out there today," said first-year coach Christian Liberty coach Claire Comerouski.
After drawing in its first two matches of the season by the same 2-2 result, Lions coach Basilio Salazar was eager to see what his club would show after a disappointing training session Monday.
"We were coming off spring break and we looked really rusty on that first day back," said Salazar. "But it was good to see the team come out looking fresh today, and it wasn't long before we were creating some chances and moving the ball around with some pace."
The aforementioned Burzlaff, along with her mates Brittany Salazar, Morgan Lockwood and Megan Kells, had far too much pace for the home side in the opening quarter-hour, and wasn't long before the Lions scored the only goal they'd need at 20 minutes.
Burzlaff sent a marvelous ball over the top of the Chargers' backline, and Lockwood did the rest, shielding her mark long enough to get space and time to hit a left-footer past keeper Samantha Amedin, who made a handful of wonderful saves to help keep her side in the match.
"Sam isn't our starting keeper, and I know she would rather not be in there for us, but she did a great job in the half that she played," said Comerouski.
The Chargers were unable to keep their guests contained, and six minutes after the Lockwood strike, Burzlaff doubled the lead with Salazar recording the helper.
Salazar helped the Lions (1-0-2) score its third goal of the half. The senior captain initiated play with a free kick, and after a late whistle from the referee, Christian Liberty (0-4-0, 0-1-0) stopped playing long enough to allow Burzlaff to get in close and fire in her second goal at 31 minutes.
Just before, Amedin made a point-blank stop on Salazar, and later, with the first period comig to an end, Amedin, with cat-like reflexes, went stick-to-stick to turn away Carol Kaufman's attempt at the back post.
"In our last match, it was 2-2 and we threw everything we had at them in the last 10 minutes and couldn't find the back of the net," said Salazar. "Today we created some very good chances again, but we were able to finish a few of them."
A rather tame Chargers attack in the first half looked sharper after the break, with freshman Maddie Bennett, who was outstanding along the back in the first 40 minutes, helping lead some quality work going forward for her club.
With the help of Amedin, now a field player, along with Carly Adelsperger and Christine Laskowski, the Chargers put the visitors under pressure, using a strong wind at their back and a more direct approach going forward to force Lions keeper Tori Nelson to save a few good efforts on frame.
Julia Cosmos would put Laskowski through at 66 minutes, but Nelson stopped the senior with confidence. Later, Bennett set up Lauren Colbert four minutes from time, but once again, Nelson was there to help secure the shutout.
"We were up 2-0 in our season opener, then conceded 2 goals," said Salazar. "But today, we managed our lead so much better, got a shutout and our first win of the season."
The Lions host Christian Life on Thursday, while Christian Liberty welcomes Hiawatha on Friday.
Buffalo Grove 3, WW South 0: Sara Busse scored twice and Kelli Zickert had a goal and an assist to help the Bison to a Pepsi Showdown victory over the Tigers.
Sarah O'Connor earned the shutout in goal for BG.