Girls soccer: Wheaton Academy falls in state semifinals
Amy Alexander needed a few moments to compose herself before expressing a heartfelt comment about her teammate, Grace Platt.
Platt, a Wheaton Academy freshman, appeared to suffer a serious right knee injury during the first half of the Class 1A state soccer semifinal against Belleville Althoff on Friday. Platt left the field on a cart and did not return.
"Grace is not a freshman in my eyes," said Alexander, a senior, through tears following the 3-0 loss.
Althoff's Kylie Petroski scored a pair of goals -- one in each half -- while Regan Moody added the insurance tally with six minutes left in the second half to clinch a ticket to the state title game on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Hoffman Estates High School.
But the final score was not what Alexander was most concerned with.
"She [Platt] is [plays like an] upperclassman. She encourages and directs and instructs just as much as the upperclassmen on this team. So, losing her was significant. I am completely confident in Grace playing center-mid," Alexander said. "I know that if the ball is in her area, she's going to win it. If she loses it, she's going to win it back. And, she's going to work her tail off to win it back. I've known that from the first day."
Althoff (21-2) will go for its first state championship since 2010 against Timothy Christian, which beat Quincy Notre Dame 1-0 in the second semifinal. Althoff placed third in 2018.
Wheaton Academy (18-5), making its sixth state tournament appearance since 2009, will play Quincy Notre Dame at 10 a.m. Saturday for third place.
Warriors coach Maria Selvaggio spoke of the difficulty of seeing Platt go down with an injury. The freshman midfielder has scored five goals this spring.
"We got to have all those contact days in the fall and she's been a gift," Selvaggio said of Platt. "You don't think freshman when you look at her. She's feisty. She's strong. She's aggressive. She has a presence. And, so it hurt to lose her on the field."
Wheaton Academy's loss was its first since May 15 against Neuqua Valley, snapping a 10-game winning streak.
Petroski's first goal came on a corner kick in traffic with 33:16 left in the first half. The Crusaders never looked back.
"I couldn't stop jumping up and down," Moody said upon watching the first goal. "I didn't even go over and hug Kylie. I was just jumping. Getting that first goal was the start of it all, and since then, I think we just kept at it; we never let down. We got two more, which is amazing."
"I practice all the time," Petroski said. "Every practice, we're out there working on corner kicks with my team. Even alone, I go out with my Dad and work on corner kicks. They're kind of my specialty in a way."
Althoff's shutout was its 12th this season, not including a forfeit victory. The Crusaders have qualified for the state tournament five times with Juergen Huettner as head coach.
"Every [state] run is separate; it's a different build up," Huettner said of the postseason success. "This group, you got to give them [credit]. We're a small school. We play all the big schools ... working up to this game, obviously we had two amazing games leading up to [Friday] with Marquette Catholic and Columbia. And, it just shows the [heart] of the team."