Girls soccer: Stevenson's defense excels in tie with Lake Zurich

 
By Rusty Silber
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 4/19/2016 9:46 PM
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Defense really does make a difference, and Stevenson's recent performance is proof enough of that.

The Patriots' girls soccer team is unbeaten over its last five games, going 4-0-1 in that stretch.

In four of those games, Stevenson hasn't allowed a single goal.

Amanda Konopacki is one of the senior leaders leading the effort defensively, as a stalwart on the stingly back line that seems to be improving with each effort.

Stevenson showed its resiliency in a 1-1 draw with host Lake Zurich in a North Suburban Lake Division game on Tuesday night.

"It's tough, but working with the girls next to me, we really have started to figure it out," said Konopacki, who team up with defenders Maddy Ding, Sabrina Illian and Lauren Micek and keeper Hannah Petrich against a high-scoring Bears team. "We all know our jobs, support each other, trust each other a lot and it makes our job a lot easier.

"We came with the thought of getting another shutout. We gave up 1 goal, but we did pretty good against a very talented team."

Stevenson is now 5-4-1 overall and 1-1-1 in the Lake, while Lake Zurich is 6-2-1 and 1-0-1.

"This group is playing well," Stevenson coach Kevin Heffernan said. "We knew that coming into this game, they had to play well to stay in the conference race. (Lake Zurich) was a tough team to play and stayed with them all the way through.

"We're always nervous playing this club," said Heffernan, who specified Lake Zurich team speed as a big challenge. "Our team adjusted it very well.

Stevenson got the first goal late in the first half, as Hannah Lapeire scored into the upper corner after taking a pass from Cassie Farber in the 39th minute.

Lake Zurich tied it in the 51st minute. Emily Udelhoven won a 50/50 ball contested by Petrich and lofted a shot into the goal.

"I just kept after it," Udelhoven said, "I knew it was going to be an even ball. As soon as we hit it, I looked for it immediately and tried to corral it right away. Then I was able to put it in the back of the net."

Lake Zurich had scored 15 goals over its last three matches, but Stevenson kept the Bears' chances to a minumum.

"Both teams played well defensively," Lake Zurich coach Michael Castronova said. "Both teams created some chances, too. It was a good NSC Lake Division game -- any team can beat any team on any given day.

"Hats off to Stevenson for the way they played. It was two good teams. (Stevenson's) speed up top and ours up top made it a good battle. We wished that we could get one more."

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