Girls soccer: Benet completes its state championship mission
Benet Academy and Wauconda were both on a mission to win their first girls state soccer championship trophy.
It was a battle of will and determination to get it done on Saturday afternoon on both sides.
Wauconda scored a goal in the first half and was trying to carry it the distance until the final minutes of regulation.
That's when a late Benet Academy goal from University of Chicago-bound Mary Kate Hansen changed the match and the outcome.
Jaimee Cibulka, sporting a number 14 on her jersey, scored her 14th goal of the season, the game-winning goal in the 94th minute which lifted the Redwings past Wauconda 2-1 in double overtime in the Class 2A state championship game at North Central College in Naperville.
Benet Academy won its first title on the girls side and will have something to remember.
"This was a dream come true," Benet Academy coach Gerard Oconer said. "This was something that all the girls and myself having been dreaming of their entire lives here. It's been something that we've been talking about for the last several years. Especially this year, because we had the team to do it. So for it all to come together, it was an amazing feeling."
The Redwings (24-3-1) were just a couple minutes away from seeing Wauconda (19-3-3) take home its first championship until Hansen found the back of the net.
"It was a just a matter of time," Oconer said. "We were at the goal stepping up and (Wauconda) was dropping back. We were at their door step with their numbers back. It just took one special moment by our captain (Hansen), who just refused to let us lose. She made her opportunity and got it."
Hansen tied the game in the 79th minute of play at an opportune time after Kate Flynn had served a ball into the top part of the box. Hansen made it happen with a volley kick for her fourth goal this year.
"I knew we needed a goal and I was going to do anything I could to keep this team in the game," Hansen said. "It was something special for the girls and there was no way out except for a win. I saw Kate Flynn with the ball and she was going to go near post. So I just spun around and she saw I was free. Then I saw the ball and the keeper come out. I just put the ball at the post and it went in."
After a lightning delay, there were a couple of chances on each side, but in the 94th minute Cibulka hit the game-winner off a touch from Abby Casmere.
"I just can't describe the feeling. It was something that not a lot of people can say -- they won a state championship," Cibulka said. "It was huge for my team and I. It was our goal and we finally reached it. It was very dramatic at the end and to stay composed was so hard. But everyone did that."
Wauconda was so close to a first state title in any sport in its school history, sitting 106 seconds away in regulation.
"It's hard letting it go that way," Wauconda coach Beau Shogren said. "(Benet Academy) was a really good team and a really good attacking team that put a lot of pressure on us. We held them off as best as we could. Eventually, it just broke. Eventually, we just ran out of gas a bit.
"I can't say enough about the group. It's hard to tell them that we lost, but don't worry that your second in state." Shogren added. "It's still unlike our school has ever seen before in full team competition. We're proud as heck and it was a great season. I have no regrets about it. We will try again next year. We would've liked to hold on a couple more minutes."
Northern Illinois University recruit Abigail McHugh scored the opening goal for Wauconda in the 17th minute with a header, her fourth goal of the season. Belle Johnson set it up off a corner kick.
"That goal motivated us to go farther," McHugh said. "At the same time, I feel that we let back a little bit. But we set in with a goal that gave me a lot of confidence in my senior year making the state final. The goal gave the team a lot of confidence to keep pushing and keep holding there."
Still, getting to the title game and being the runner-up in Class 2A was something that the Bulldogs will keep in their minds for a long time.
"It is what it is and still proud of the outcome," McHugh said. "Second place is still amazing for a team like this. Happy for the team and for all the girls It was very memorable."