Girls soccer: St. Viator nails down sectional championship
The St. Viator girls soccer squad entered into the Forest View Educational Center in Arlington Heights for its Class 2A sectional final versus Deerfield seeking to continue the legendary coaching career of its mentor, Mike Taylor, that will come to an end upon the conclusion of the season.
Boosted from Taylor's pregame pep talk that their head coach bestowed upon them, the Lions used a combination of heart, brains, skill, and teamwork to get past the Warriors 2-0 and earn the program's fourth sectional plaque under Taylor during his 11 seasons at the helm.
Viator will play at 5:30 p.m. Monday in the Wauconda supersectional against Burlington Central. The Rockets (13-6-1) posted a 1-0 shutout over Freeport earlier Friday evening.
"We survived the first half (a scoreless tie)," Taylor said. "They (Deerfield) have three great runners up front that are very good and we knew we had to curtail them, so we made a little bit of a difference -- we dropped a fifth defender back. We organized a little bit and then said, look we got to take our chances. We're going to rely on one of our 2, 3, 4, or 5 chances we get."
The Lions (12-4-1) took advantage of one of those opportunities to get on the scoreboard in the contest's 68th minute when senior midfielder Gabby Brown found herself in front of the Deerfield goal with the ball at her feet as it caromed off Warrior goalie Lauren Gottlieb who had successfully shielded an attempt from Viator freshman midfielder Taylor Brackett.
Brown proceeded to place the ball in the net, which placed the home team up 1-0.
In return, she praised Brackett's effort that put her in the right place at the right time.
"It was pretty much all of her work," Brown said. "She shot it and I think she tried to shoot it on the rebound, but it really wasn't going in and I was just there."
The second Lion goal came in the 83rd minute of play when junior forward Sidney Grant took advantage of a shot attempt that slid under Gottlieb in which she promptly placed the ball in the net for a 2-0 lead.
Meanwhile, Lion senior netminder Lilly Collins had set up a virtual cushion over the visitors (15-8-2), saving 20 of the Warriors' 25 shots on goal.
"This is the most action I've had out of all of the playoff (games) for sure, but a great way to get a win," Collins said.
She also cited the move at half that added a fifth defender as a potent aid to the squad's successful defensive effort.
"They were doing a good job of getting in, so we had to have extra people back there to mark, but we did a great job adjusting to it and getting there to stop them," she said.