Girls soccer: Stevenson gets past Fremd to earn sectional crown
It's been a dream, history-making season for Stevenson's girls soccer and it just keeps rolling on.
Notre Dame-bound Kalyssa "Kiki" VanZanten netted a pair of goals and with another outstanding performance from Florida Southern recruit Jenny Staten in goal, the top-seeded Patriots downed No. 3 seed Fremd 2-1 Saturday to win the Class 3A Buffalo Grove sectional.
Stevenson (22-1-2) will next face New Trier for the third time this season in the Fremd supersectional Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in Palatine.
New Trier won the first meeting 2-1, but a week later Stevenson recovered with a 2-0 shutout over host New Trier in the Deep Dish Classic championship game.
With the win, the Patriots made program history, reaching the Elite Eight for the first time.
"I knew from the start that I had a special group of girls that have come together and do whatever it takes to win," Stevenson coach PepeJon Chavez said. "These players are the ones that get all the credit. Fremd has a heck of a team over there. They work hard, they chase and they get numbers behind the ball. They press and pursue all day long, so they made it tough for us. We just needed our stars that needed to shine. We have 25 stars and they all shined. Overall, we are where we are because we're a team, we're a family and we do everything for love."
One player that hasn't had a chance to play this season, Purdue-bound Hannah Lapeire, was the one holding the sectional plaque after it was handed out to the team. She injured her ACL on the third day of tryouts, but has been able to give moral support to the team in other ways all season long along with being one of the captains.
"This is definitely my favorite season of my high school career," Lapeire said. "We have the best team chemistry and team environment We have an amazing coaching staff and amazing players. It makes the vibe so good and enjoyable. I'm glad to be a part of it all."
VanZanten broke through, scoring the first of her 2 goals on the day when she knocked in a header from a perfectly placed Grace Winfield cross in the 26th minute for a 1-0 Patriots lead.
"I know what Grace can do (with the ball)," VanZanten said. "I knew that she can serve a ball really well. I made a run to cut inside (to the goal). She put it in a perfect spot and I just had to be there."
Fremd evened the game at 1-1 in the 39th minute off a corner kick that was delivered by Rose Kentish, who got credit for the goal because VanZanten deflected it into the Patriots' goal.
That goal broke a string of 14 straight Stevenson shutouts and a run of 1,217 minutes without giving up a goal.
VanZanten stepped up again for the Patriots in the second half, scoring her 26th goal this season in the 57th minute. She collected the ball and took on three Vikings defenders, making moves to the left and right with the ball and finding enough space to net the game-winning goal.
"I do find myself in situations like that a lot," VanZanten said. "I have people in front of me where I access the space in front of me, where I can find an opening. That's what I did and I was able to get it going in."
Staten (9 saves) had another quality game in goal for the Patriots by stopping a breakaway from the Vikings' Emma Spotak in the first half, along with a few other stops with dives and knocking the ball over the bar.
Fremd (14-5-3) was in the back-and-forth battle but it appeared for a while that neither team could get that many opportunities on either side of the field.
"I was very pleased how our girls played and we left everything on the field," Fremd coach Steve Keller said. "It wasn't the prettiest of soccer. Both teams, I think, were overcautious defensively. There wasn't that many chances. It was one of those games that could've gone either way.
"(Stevenson) did a good job of keeping five people back all the time. It seemed like when one of our forwards got the ball, there were two or three people there, especially when we wanted to turn or go at them. They did a good job, but we created some things and we had some chances.
"I'm very pleased about this season. I thought these girls grew and certainly had a lot of fun," Keller said. "We talk all the time about sportsmanlike lessons and journey. I had an absolute blast with this group. They are a bunch of quality kids that put the effort in."