Wheaton Academy senior third-year starter Anna Joy Setran and several key returnees from last year's Class 1A girls soccer state championship team were determined for another state run -- this time in Class 2A.
A few new faces -- such as junior goalkeeper Marta Oster -- were ready to help.
"We knew it was going to be harder. Harder teams and harder competition," Setran said. "We wanted to come back and have a strong season and with 12 seniors we knew that we could."
Oster's huge early save and more clutch scoring by sophomore Sophie Lindquist helped the Warriors return to the state semifinals by beating Prairie Ridge 2-1 Tuesday at the Concordia University supersectional.
Wheaton Academy (20-5) will play Lemont (20-1-4) at 11 a.m. Friday at North Central College.
"Definitely winning state in 1A is an accomplishment, but I think we wanted to prove to people that we can do it in 2A, too," said junior third-year starter Erin Teevans. "Honestly, I've said from the start I just want to play as many games as I can with the seniors. Now we have two more for sure."
This is the first girls state trip for first-year coach Jeff Brooke, who took the boys team to three straight state semifinals and the 2014 Class 2A championship.
"I'm just proud of the girls for winning it at 1A and coming back hungry to do well at 2A. That really defines the senior class and they've really guided us to that spot," Brooke said.
"I was pleased that we were able to find the net two times against a really well-disciplined team."
Lindquist gave the Warriors a 2-0 lead on a 35-yard blast with 16:35 left in the first half and 26:29 remaining off a Teevans cross.
Battling the absence of four starters, the Wolves (17-3) tried to rally with Nicole Anderson scoring off Emily Perhats' free kick with 20:42 remaining. They had three corner kicks in the final 20 minutes but could only muster a shot to the far post defended by senior Holland Kosiek.
"We had three that we could have put in the first half," Prairie Ridge coach Andre Watson said. "Wheaton Academy is a strong team and played a really nice game. They're a complete team."
Oster, not only a newcomer to varsity but to goalkeeper, might have made the play of the game.
Fewer than eight minutes into the contest, Anderson broke free on left wing, but Oster charged and blocked the attempt.
"You don't really see it coming and then it's all last second," Oster said. "All I heard in my head was my coach yelling, 'Get out, Marta.' It's scary but it's so fun when you get it and you get so much support afterward."
Oster was recruited after the graduation of Liana Ledesma, who logged all of the 2016 goalkeeper minutes without previous experience.
"My dad and brother are goalkeepers," Oster said. "I was just messing around during summer camp and (Brooke) is like, 'We don't have a goalkeeper this year,' so I decided to come out."
Setran then charged in front of the goal to prevent another Anderson shot before Oster grabbed the ball.
Less than two minutes later, Lindquist controlled the ball in the center of the field, dribbled 10 yards untouched and blasted her left-footed shot into the lower-left corner of the net.
"I just saw green space in front of me so I took it," Lindquist said.
On her second goal, recently entered Sarah Broka passed to Teevans for the cross. Lindquist's slight touch put the ball off the right post and eventually past the goal line.
Lindquist also scored in Friday's 1-0 overtime sectional final victory and the winning overtime goal in last year's Class 1A championship victory.
"It's just playoffs. Either you win or you go home so I just have an extra hunger for the goal," Lindquist said. "But I wouldn't be making them without people making great passes."
Down 2-0 and one field player Friday, Prairie Ridge rallied to beat Wauconda 3-2. Starters Jena Berkland and Melissa Bear received red cards and had to sit out Tuesday and starter Josie Eriksen also was sidelined. Leading scorer and Illinois recruit Makena Silber was lost to a torn ACL during the regional final.
"All of us were adjusting on the fly all game long. I'm proud of the girls," Watson said.
Is there a similar state feeling for these Warriors? They've outscored opponents 117-20 with 12 shutouts. The 2016 state champions (22-3-2) outscored opponents 118-17 with 15 shutouts.
"It's honestly almost the same team so I think we just had the confidence going," Teevans said. "We couldn't have done (Tuesday) without the back line. They were a brick wall the whole entire game. I've never seen a back line with that much heart."