Girls soccer: Iverson's goal enough as Naperville N. tops Naperville C. for sectional title
Naperville North defender Lucy Iverson found herself in the right place at the right time, and her kick was right on the money.
Friday night in the Huskies' Class 3A girls soccer sectional championship game against Naperville Central, Iverson found the ball at her feet directly in front of the goal during a scrum off a corner kick in the 14th minute.
The junior calmly focused and found her shot, sending the ball to the back of the net for the only goal of the game as second-seeded North defeated Central, the sectional's top seed, 1-0 on the Redhawks' home field.
"Off the corner (well-placed by junior Madison Korosec)," said Iverson, "I went for it and tapped it and I got lucky, the ball went through a bunch of people and went in."
"I just tried to be the first one to it, just go for it, and it worked out."
The defensive effort and goalkeeping for both teams was outstanding, as keepers Abby Haskell for Naperville North, and Trinity Strang (1st half) and Abby O'Connor (2nd half) of Central faced pressure all evening but were able to turn away shot after shot.
"I don't think anybody in the state is going to be surprised when they see North scored off a reset and defended well," said Naperville North coach Steve Goletz. "I actually thought we had some very good chances thereafter to add a second or a third, but their (Central's) goalkeeping was outstanding. They made some great saves."
Naperville Central had some quality chances, especially late in the second half, but couldn't get the equalizer.
"They deserve better," said Redhawks coach Ed Watson of his team. "North was able to get a restart goal, and we couldn't get one ourselves. For our girls, it's a bitter pill."
Central had a great opportunity not long after the second half kickoff as a hard shot by freshman Lauren Thorne was stopped then bobbled at the goal line by Haskell, but the junior keeper was able to corral the ball before any damage was done.
Teammate Sophia Skoubis had another solid chance just moments later but again Haskell was up to the task.
Then came the final 10 minutes, and with Central pressing the issue looking for the tying goal, Iverson said it was all hands on deck.
"It was just defense, defense, defense," said Iverson, "just drop our midfielders and try to hold it up top for as long as we could, and then play defense again."
Central had two chances late, one on a pinpoint shot from the right flank by Maddie Boogerd that was just saved before going in the corner of the goal, then another on a point-blank drive from 30 yards away that sailed over the crossbar.
Minutes later, the final horn sounded and the North celebration was on.
"I cannot speak enough about how well our kids have bought in to what we've asked them to do," said Goletz. "This is the program's fifth sectional championship in a row, and it's tough on the kids to have the pressure that they do when you have a target on your back all the time. You have to do the little things right all the time, and this feels like a great, great win. That is a fantastic team over there (Naperville Central) and I know they're going to come back even stronger."
Iverson couldn't agree more that the win for her team was a big one.
"This is huge," she said. "It's so exciting, especially with them being ranked first. We knew it would be tough competition going in, but we came out and showed what we could do."