Girls soccer: Stevenson gets past Wauconda, reaches NSC's summit
It's been an uphill climb for Stevenson's girls soccer team.
Tuesday, the Patriots reached the top of the North Suburban Conference by capturing a 2-1 decision over host Wauconda. Stevenson had prevailed in a rugged NSC Lake that saw six of the seven teams finish with a .500 record or better in the division.
Hannah Lapeire and Mackenzie Connington scored for the Patriots, and Daniela Adjunta picked up an assist. Kayla Wisniewski had the only goal for the Bulldogs.
"This was a big game and a playoff atmosphere," said Stevenson coach Keven Heffernan, whose 9-6-1 Patriots are 8-2-1 in their last 11 games. "I love this group. They're fun to be around, and they love to be around each other.
"This is the biggest win we've had since we won a regional a couple of years ago. Winning our conference is tough. I think it's harder to win this than a regional."
Stevenson took a 1-0 lead in the 39th minute. Savannah Kruse made a run with the ball into the penalty area and was tripped up. Stevenson was awarded a penalty kick, and Lapeire converted.
Stevenson added a second goal in the 52nd minute off a corner kick. Connington scored her sixth goal of the season with a well-placed header into the goal off Adjunta's service. Adjunta had just replaced Savannah Kruse, who got hurt.
"We had to step it up and get one more goal," Adjunta said. "I wanted to place the ball in a spot where I knew one of my players could head it in. Mackenzie (Connington) is great with her head. It was perfect that it went right to her. I placed it right at the 6, where I wished she would be. She just headed it in. I take the corners if Savannah (Kruse) isn't in the game."
Wauconda (12-2-2) pushed back late in the match. Wisniewski found a loose ball out in front and scored her 20th goal of the season in the 73rd minute to cut the Stevenson lead in half.
The Bulldogs pushed hard for the equalizer but couldn't put another shot past Patriots keeper Hannah Petrich, who made 8 stops.
"We wanted the championship," Wauconda coach Beau Shogren said. "We were happy to be in this game. But with the success we've had, we also were disappointed with the outcome. We played hard and we played a really good soccer team in Stevenson. They're a really skilled, physical, fast soccer team. It's probably the best team that we've seen this year."
Wauconda had several quality scoring chance in the first half.
"There were definitely plenty of chances," Shogren said. "But we dwell on it that much. We'll use this for motivation and it will help us work in practice. We're going to put together more dynamic finishes in practices."