Girls soccer: Wauconda on its way to state for first time
With a trip to the IHSA Final Four state tournament on the line, the pressure was on when Wauconda met Crystal Lake Central Tuesday night in the Class 2A Grayslake Central girls soccer supersectional game.
And despite falling behind 1-0 very early in the match, the Bulldogs were not fazed as they regrouped to take a 2-1 lead into halftime with the momentum squarely in their corner.
After that, Wauconda (18-2-2) wasn't about to let what has been a magical season slip away as the Bulldogs held on for a 2-1 victory despite some pretty nervous moments in the second half. In the process, the Bulldogs captured their first supersectional championship in school history.
With the win, Wauconda advances to the state semifinals Friday at 11 a.m. at North Central College in Naperville against Joliet Catholic Academy, which defeated Peoria Notre Dame in a game that was decided by penalty kicks. No matter what happens, the Bulldogs are assured of no less than a fourth-place trophy. The Tigers closed out their season with a 19-4 record.
"It was an absolutely awesome game. Crystal Lake Central brought everything they had today, and thankfully we were able to sneak a couple in," said Wauconda coach Beau Shogren. "It could have gone either way. We stuck with it like we have all year, and these girls have never quit in a match."
CLC shocked the Bulldogs just over two minutes into the contest when Grace Rokos' shot from deep in the left wing sailed over Wauconda freshman goalkeeper Mackenzie Arden and into the far right corner of the net for a 1-0 lead.
But some aggressive offensive attacking by Wauconda paid off with 11:45 left in the first half as junior Savannah Johnson's long pass from the left wing found senior teammate Megan Sinnott in close to the net for the goal and a 1-1 deadlock.
Then with 4:27 remaining in the first half, freshman Belle Johnson scored what proved to be the game-winning goal from long distance as Johnson's shot from about 25 yards out somehow found the back of the net with the ball sailing just over CLC goalkeeper Nora Ryan's hands.
"It was a really close game. Both teams scrambled for 80 minutes, and things just didn't go our way," said CLC coach Sarah Fack, whose team lost to Wauconda 1-0 in the regular season. "We broke records this year for our program, and we had never gotten past the sectional semifinals before."
Getting to the 32nd Annual IHSA state tourney was not an easy task for the Bulldogs. But some great goaltending by Arden along with some great overall play by teammates Savannah Johnson, Abigail McHugh, and Rosalie Wisniewski really helped get the job done.
"I think it was such a team effort and we left everything on the field because I feel we had nothing to lose," said Sinnott, who got a questionable yellow card with 5:41 to play. "I think the key (at state) is to just play how we've been playing, play as a team, and I believe we're extremely confident."
Coach Shogren couldn't have been happier following the historic victory, and he has faith in his team looking ahead to this weekend at state.
"My thought is 'why not us'? I think we can run with anybody, and we're going to be the new faces in the crowd," added Shogren. "If someone had asked me if we would get this far I would have had a lot of questions, and it is just great for our program to get to this point."
Savannah Johnson came up with a huge defensive play with 1:15 to play before Wauconda was able to run out the clock and set off a huge celebration on the field with its fans.