Girls soccer: Stevenson levels up, sinks Carmel
At the time the Warren sectional was seeded, the 12th-seeded Stevenson Patriots got placed as a true underdog based on their results at that point.
Since then, though, the Patriots have been in nearly every single match, with 1-goal margins in six of their nine losses this season. And in the North Suburban Conference, the Patriots went 2-5 -- but in four of the five losses, they dropped matches by 1 goal, in addition to a 3-1 defeat to a powerful Warren team.
Stevenson certainly exceeded its seed in opening up regional play by upsetting No. 7 Carmel Catholic 4-2 in Lincolnshire on Tuesday afternoon.
The Patriots (5-9-2) will host second-seeded Warren (19-1-2) at 11 a.m. Saturday in a regional final. The Blue Devils won the other regional semifinal over Waukegan 9-0 on Tuesday night.
"I think the girls are used to coming back in games and keeping a high intensity," Stevenson coach Kevin Heffernan said. "It has helped us a lot. That was the key, to stay ahead of Carmel by a step. (Carmel) played us pretty well and didn't give up. Our girls stuck with it and kept going forward."
It seemed to help that Stevenson has played a difficult schedule this season, including taking part in the North Shore Invite hosted by New Trier. In a regular-season meeting with Carmel, it ended 3-3.
"I think this team is ready for the playoffs after all the close games," Heffernan said "I don't think we can do anything else with them in practice. We do dead balls and penalties, that's it. It's all in their heads right now, and it's all a mental game in the playoffs."
On a very windy Tuesday afternoon, Stevenson had the wind at its back in the opening half. The Pats scored an opening goal in the eighth minute, when Jill Steinbrink scored off a pass from Brianna Vanzanten.
The Patriots went up 2-0 in the 46th minute on a goal scored by Kristen Hills that had deflected off a Corsairs player in the back. Carmel (9-7-3) made 2-1 when Vermont-bound Angie Salvi found the back of the net a minute later.
Steinbrink put the Patriots back up 3-1 in the 55th minute on a breakaway goal after taking a slotted ball from Kirsten Kendler.
"My role on this team is to play the through balls, but my favorite thing is to receive them," Steinbrink said. "To get those breakaways is my favorite thing. It was a really good pass, she was in a good position and is really good getting the ball to me."
Carmel cut the lead to 3-2 in the 76th minute as Salvi netted her second goal with an assist from Ali Cepon.
But the Patriots' sent the lead back up by 2 goals two minutes later as Hannah LaPeire scored on a penalty kick.
"I think it was among the scheme of things it was evenly matched throughout the game," Carmel coach Ray Krawzak said. "(Stevenson) took advantage of the wind better than we did. They used their momentum to keep it going in the second half.
"It took us too long to find the back of the net. Once we were behind, we started pushing and we gave up a few breakaways. We did battle and never gave up. Stevenson was good -- they never slowed down and found the back of the net with their chances."