Girls soccer: St. Viator upends Wauconda in sectional semifinal
Gabby Brown cooly directed her spotkick into the corner of the net sending St. Viator into Friday's sectional final following the Lions' thrilling 1-0 penalty kick win over Wauconda Tuesday night at Morris Stadium in Arlington Heights.
Next up for the top seed Lions (11-4-1) will be No. 3 Deerfield (15-8-2), which advanced with a 2-1 win over No. 2 Prairie Ridge. The sectional final will be at Morris Stadium at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
"I was not worried at all when we went to kicks. I love them," said Lions keeper Lily Collins, who was on the Class 2A state runner-up team in 2018.
"The last time we lost in kicks was to Vernon Hills in our regional final in 2019, so I was feeling really confident tonight when it went to kicks," added Collins, who stopped one spotkick from the Bulldogs.
"All I could think of when we went to kicks was, this isn't the way I want to see my coaching career here at St. Viator end," said Mike Taylor, who is moving on after this, his 11th season in charge of the girls' program, and 34 years overall at Viator.
"I thought we outplayed (Wauconda) in the first half and had a lot of the play in the second half, but they played hard and gave a great effort all throughout regulation and the two overtime periods."
The Lions came out on their front foot and had the run of play by winning nearly every ball in the middle of the park, while beating the Bulldogs (11-6-2) in the tackle and in the air for the first half-hour of the contest.
"We were chasing the game at the start, but we finally settled in and actually had a couple of terrific chances, which we just were not able to finish," said Bulldogs coach Beau Shogren, who led his club to a Northern Lake County Conference title this season.
The best chance of the first period came in the 29th minute when Katie Karecki had enough time to tee one up from 16 yards but the Bulldogs junior sent her effort just over the bar.
Bulldogs keeper Mackenzie Arden, who was magnificent all throughout the 100 minutes of action, was a key figure according to Shogren.
"Mackenzie saved us all night long, and gave us a chance to be in this game with her command in the box and with a couple of nice saves," said Shogren.
Just after the intermission, Belle Johnson was sent through on the left side and would then draw Collins off her line but the junior was unable to steer in the opener into an empty net, thanks in part to Emily Rascher, who defended bravely when she would track back to help out during the sequence.
With overtime nearing, Caroline Sexton grazed the bar with her free kick attempt, before Emilie Doersching went over the bar moments later.
After the first round of five shooters were level at 4-4, Brown fired in the game-winner following a Bulldogs attempt that went off the bar.
"All bets are off when you go to penalty kicks but regardless of this loss, I am so proud of the girls, who left it all out there tonight. It just didn't go our way," said Shogren. "After our 2A second-place team in 2019, we graduated so many players who missed out on a 2020 season, but this team, which had just two senior starters (Rosalie Wisniewski and Ellie Karg) and the rest are mostly freshmen and sophomores, so we feel like we're on the way back."