Girls soccer: Whelpley, Batavia oust Geneva
After 11 losses in the regular season, Batavia could officially wipe the slate clean Wednesday.
Ashley Whelpley ensured the Bulldogs' season wasn't over yet. Whelpley scored two goals, including one in the opening minutes, of Wednesday's 4-1 Class 3A regional semifinal victory over Geneva.
" ... We kind of forgot about all the losses and everything -- the hard times that we've had -- we were just focusing on playoffs," said Whelpley, who now has 10 goals on the season. "I feel like we really showed up today."
Batavia (7-11) lost to Geneva (8-7) both times during the regular season. But as Wednesday proved, come playoffs, anything can happen.
"It's hard to beat a team three times [in a season], so we were working hard," Whelpley said. "We've been trying to stay tough, mentally tough, and really showed up today. I'm really proud of everyone."
The Bulldogs will face DuKane Conference foe St. Charles North for the regional title on Friday. The North Stars handled DeKalb 8-0 in their regional semifinal.
Batavia lost in both regular season matchups to St. Charles North.
"Every practice, we've been working hard. We actually had a whole little classroom thing kind of just seeing what we specifically need to work on each practice and what our weaknesses that we need to work on," Whelpley said. "I feel like we really accomplished that and worked hard this week. I think it really showed on the field today that we are a great team, it just took us [a little bit to put it all together]."
Batavia took a 2-0 lead into the half, but the Vikings' Rilee Hasegawa snuck a ball through the defense after defender Alyssa Sarik made an initial save with her foot at the goal line to pull within one just minutes into the second half.
Whelpley answered four minutes later with her second goal, and Carlin King provided the insurance tally for the Bulldogs.
"I think [our team has been] focused," Batavia coach Mark Gianfrancesco said. "I think we're just kind of honing in on what we can do as a team, what we can be successful at as a team and I think that's helped to kind of focus on what their roles are moving forward."
Looking ahead, the Vikings could be well positioned for a successful season in the future, as they'll expect upward of 20 returning players next season. Faith Stellick, Ysabel Spohn and Kelly Anderson were the lone seniors on a young squad.
"We've had pretty much every obstacle that you could come across as a team," Anderson reflected. "We had kids quarantined, we had a young team to start with [and] really no time to [get ready] ... in the past, I talked about in [our final player postgame circle] we did a lot of team bonding events and we had a lot of preparation going up to it, but we didn't really have that this year."
"Yet, this team we bonded so fast; quicker than a lot of my other teams in the past," Anderson continued. "So, it's just really fun to play with all these girls ... we're set up for the future. We have a lot of talent ... our freshmen are insane, our sophomores and all of them. They're going to really contribute in the future and I just hope I gave them whatever I could and then they can take what I gave them and continue that in the future."
The team environment will have a lasting impression on Anderson as she will head to Indiana University in the fall to study finance.
" ... That's what I play soccer for: The friends and the laughs," Anderson said. "At the end of the day, you're not going to remember your record, but you're just going to remember the laughs you had and the teammates you had. We're all friends for life. I'm going to be talking to these girls [and coach Megan Owens] for a long time and hope to see them in college and come back and visit."