Montini going to state for first time
Tuesday was a day of a big first for the Montini girls soccer team, which beat Alleman High School of Rock Island 2-1 in the Class 1A Lisle supersectional at Benedictine University.
It's the first trip to the state finals in program history. The furthest a team had gotten in the past was the sectional.
The Broncos face Richmond-Burton at 5 p.m. Friday in state semifinal play at North Central College in Naperville.
The Rockets defeated IC Catholic Prep 1-0 in the River Forest supersectional at Concordia University.
But Montini (13-4-1) is not a team that caught a spark late in the season and suddenly finds itself deep in the postseason.
The Broncos had a trip to state as a goal right at the start of the schedule.
"We're super excited. Going to state was written on the board at the first practice and we've been thinking about it for several months," said senior midfielder Sawyer White, who scored one of her team's goals.
The Broncos took the lead 9:17 into the match when freshman Annalee Defeo made good on a 25-yard shot on the far side of the pitch. Defeo said scoring early was crucial for Montini.
"It helps a team a lot with momentum and being positive," she said. "This is amazing. Our team is so good and it's crazy how far we've come."
Montini made it 2-0 late in the first when White hit a direct free kick from 45 yards out that went in the upper part of the net. She almost scored almost seven minutes later on the exact same play, but this time from 52 yards out.
"We never really practice free kicks. Coach (Kate Perry) trusts me to hit it in," White said.
The Broncos enjoyed a strong offensive attack that forced Alleman goalkeeper Clair Hulke to make 10 saves in the contest. However, while the offense was firing on all cylinders, so was the defense, not allowing the Pioneers (17-3-1) a good scoring chance until late in the contest.
"(The defense) stayed locked," Perry said. "We have big leadership in the back with Anna Carrigan and Riley White. They keep everyone in line and are a key to it all."
Alleman finally got on the scoreboard with just 2:20 left to play on a goal by Carson Wendt.
The winning goalkeeper was Natalie Gartlan.
"A lot of people didn't think we could get here. But everyone on the team bought into it," Perry said. "I am so proud of them."