Girls soccer: Geneva edges WW South in DuKane opener
Geneva seniors Stephanie Howe and Jenna Dominguez have a special connection on the soccer field.
"(Dominguez) always finishes for me. It always happens," Howe said. "She always knows where to be so it's great that we've had this chemistry the last few years. She always manages to get on the end of it."
On Thursday the two found each other twice for goals, including the game-winner with 12:53 left that lifted the Vikings to a 3-2 rain-soaked victory at Wheaton Warrenville South in the teams' first game in the new DuKane Conference.
Dominguez scored the winner for the Vikings (4-1-1) after Howe again effectively worked down right wing and delivered a cross that senior teammate Caitlin Farrell let travel through the crease to Dominguez on the far post.
"I kind of just told (Farrell) leave it because I was wide open and I was able to get the right touch at the right time and just have the composure to put it in," Dominguez said of her eighth goal this season.
"We've been talking about keeping our composure for the past five games. Having my teammates behind me and telling me to keep going, keep going, that's what pushed me to continue to keep going and finish what I started."
Both teams have high aspirations with talented, senior-dominated lineups. The Tigers (2-1), a 2018 Class 3A regional champion, started nine seniors and the Vikings seven.
Howe's beautiful one-touch goal off a Dominguez cross gave Geneva a 2-0 lead 17:20 into the contest, but the Tigers roared back with goals from seniors J.J. Aalbue and Evelyn Demsher for a 2-2 halftime tie.
"Props to Wheaton Warrenville South. They have amazing speed. But I'm glad we didn't give up," Geneva coach Megan Owens said.
"We got up early and I think let our guard down a little bit so I'm glad we were able to come back and keep fighting and finish in less than ideal conditions. It's exciting. This is our first game in a brand new conference and it was a great battle."
Dominguez, Howe and seniors Caitlin Farrell and Sydney Gratz created several early attacks. Dominguez now has 59 varsity goals, the most by any player in Owens' 12 seasons as coach.
"Their chemistry, you look at our four that are starting up there. They're all seniors so they've played together the past three, four years," Owens said. "They just do very well at reading each other and knowing where they want the ball. They're a special group."
The Tigers overcame some early rust in playing only their third game and first since March 21. Starting Saturday, they'll play four games in a week.
They pressured late and had a 25-yard free kick in the final minute. Geneva junior goalkeeper Katie Montgomery deflected senior Allie Anderson's cross, and senior Kaitlyn Cannon blocked another shot on goal before Montgomery cut her lip pouncing on the loose ball. Junior Paige MacRitchie replaced Montgomery the final 21 seconds.
"It was a great 20 minutes of play where we scratched and got back in and I'm not so certain that being up 2-0, maybe they became a little complacent," WW South coach Guy Callipari said.
"Going into the second half gave them time to regroup. I thought Geneva did a good job of refocusing on their strengths. Overall, I thought we played pretty well. To have a team that plays at that great a pace, we haven't seen that yet and I'd rather get that experience now than later on. We'll find ourselves."
Howe created the initial goal as she stole the ball from WW South goalkeeper Abbie Brennan away from the goal and passed to Farrell, whose shot beat the defender guarding the net.
On Howe's third goal of the season, Dominguez went down left wing, maneuvered around a defender and found an open Howe.
"I think the wind was a huge factor because the wind was going in the same direction I was kicking," Dominguez said.
With 19:28 left until halftime, Aalbue's goal on a header off Anderson's corner kick ignited the Tigers.
Aalbue and senior Paige Miller began generating chances through the midfield. Demsher scored on a well-placed, 20-yard chip shot off a nice dribble and pass from Miller.
Moments earlier, Aalbue took a 20-yard blast that hit the post and deflected off Montgomery. Albue, Demsher and Miller have 2 goals each.
"It was stressful for sure, but it was really exciting to get our first conference win," Howe said.
"It was definitely really head to head. They always say a 2-0 lead is the most dangerous lead. You get comfortable. Wheaton South did a great job coming back but we recollected ourselves and were going over what we needed to work on, especially refinding our shape."