Girls soccer: Stevenson surges past Zion-Benton

The second-seeded Stevenson girls soccer team stunned No. 16 Zion-Benton with a first-half scoring blitz on the way to a 9-0 victory in Class 3A regional semifinal play in Lincolnshire.

The Patriots (10-6-3) race to a 3-0 lead inside 27 minutes, then unloaded for 3 more before goals before intermission.

The Patriots advance to face No. 7 Fremd (7-9-4) in a regional final at 10 a.m. Saturday.

"We were not very good in the first 15 minutes," said Stevenson senior Brianna VanZanten, who will play next fall at Case Western University in Cleveland. "I don't know why we struggle at the start against teams we should beat, because that's not the way we play when it's someone like New Trier or Lyons Township, who we played really well against at the Malnati's Invite a couple of weeks back.

"Maybe it's how young our roster is, but we better come out and be ready to play from here on out, or we'll be in trouble."

VanZanten and her teammates at first found it difficult to connect and possess, and they were unable to solve the Zee-Bees' organized and compact defensive posture.

Gracie Wingfield, who finished with 3 goals, opened the scoring in the 12th minute, then watched Kelly Bailey score the first of her two before VanZanten made it a 3-goal advantage in the 25th minute.

VanZanten latched onto a terrific pass from Alyssa Bende before driving her left-footed attempt just inside the post to jump-start a two-minute explosion by Stevenson.

Bailey finished what Emma Murphy and Wingfield started at 36 minutes, followed by two from the sophomore Wingfield, both on wonderful individual efforts.

Zoe Friedman gave way to Kaitlyn Machado in goal after the break, with the two sharing the shut-out.

Hannah Lapeire, Murphy and Abigail Kalou each added one to the scoreline before the final whistle.

"Cliff (Pontilo) does a great job as head coach at Zion-Benton, in fact, he was the NSC Coach of the Year, and he deserves it for the way his team plays with a lot of energy and class, which isn't always easy to do when you're winning just a couple of games a year," said Stevenson coach PepeJon Chavez.

"I have a terrific bunch of girls who are dedicated to their teammates and our program, and they always come to practice and work hard, and as a coach, that's all you can really ask for," said Pontilo. "Every single one of our seniors wlll be going to college next fall, and three of them will play soccer."

Zion-Benton wrapped up its season with a 2-14-1 record.

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