Girls soccer: Wauconda wins state semifinal, will play for championship Saturday
Add another leg to the history-making journey for Wauconda's girls soccer team.
The Bulldogs got the game-winning goal from Savanna Johnson and Mackenzie Arden added a clean sheet as the Bulldogs posted a 1-0 win over Joliet Catholic Academy in the Class 2A state semifinals at North Central College in Naperville on Friday.
Wauconda has never won an IHSA state championship in any sport. The Bulldogs took second in Class 2A wrestling in 2017 and the cheerleading team was third in 2007.
The Bulldogs (19-2-2) will take on Benet Academy (23-3-1) in the state championship game Saturday at 1 p.m. North Central. The Redwings won the other state semifinal over (Troy) Triad 3-1 Friday.
Johnson scored her goal in the 27th minute, which was served by Morgan Lung into the box. Dakota Thompson got a foot flick on the ball for Johnson to get another touch past Angels goalkeeper Abby Pasternak.
"I was expecting the touch off Dakota Thompson," Johnson said. "I was able to get the second touch. It went off the top of my shoe."
The moment was one to remember.
"Just turning around and seeing every one of your teammates, and coming in tackling you basically," Johnson said. "It really was a great moment."
Johnson has been no stranger to the scoring column this season, but she had another thought about this one.
"I think this one more of a savior goal," Johnson said. "(Joliet Catholic) had some great chances and our goalie stepped up huge in this game. So it was that goal to give us that safety net."
The freshman Arden stepped up in good fashion, making 5 saves, a couple of them diving stops to help preserve the Bulldogs' shutout.
"I am nervous but I'm ready to play another game," Arden said. "You don't think about the saves, you just have to go out after it. Once you see the ball, you just come out. Afterward, you realize what you've done. It's crazy but it's what you have to do."
Wauconda has seen its program building over the last four years to make this state trip happen.
"It's amazing and I'm running out ways to say how much I love this team," Wauconda coach Beau Shogren said. "It's just that being with the team the last couple of years and these seniors are awesome. They jumped up here today, along with our freshmen Katie Karecki, Belle Johnson and our goalkeeper Mackenzie Arden was unreal. She came up with huge saves.
"It's been so unreal, I don't know what else to say about how proud and impressed I am with this group of girls. They stick together, they play for each other and listen. They're coachable, they hustle and pour a lot on the field. My hope now is that we have enough in the tank to finish this out and take home the title."
Joliet Catholic (18-2) had one other loss this season to East Suburban Catholic foe Nazareth Academy. But the Angels had their hands full with the Bulldogs in Friday's battle.
"It was like any other game, it could've gone either way," Joliet Catholic coach Oscar Valdez said. "That was the result nobody wants and it was our first time at state. You want to go to state and you want to go to the final game.
"Wauconda played really well. They were not giving up on any ball and not holding the ball too much."