Girls soccer: Drew and Rawls pace Geneva over Bartlett in Class 3A regional semifinal
A regional title plaque has managed to evade Geneva since last winning one in 2017.
The Vikings are on the cusp of achieving it once again. Now, it's a matter of finishing the goal since the opening minutes of the season.
Step 1, their 2-1 victory over Bartlett in the Class 3A South Elgin regional semifinal on Wednesday, is out of the way.
Step 2: Saturday's final vs. South Elgin at 11 a.m. is next. The Storm defeated West Chicago 3-1 in the first semifinal.
"I think this year, we believe in each other more than we ever have," Geneva junior Olivia Rawls said. "It's just a different mentality going into the season having not won a regional in such a long time. It's a big goal we wanted to achieve.
"We all really want it and we all want to work hard for it," Rawls continued.
The Vikings lost in the final last season and in 2019. That's a chapter the Vikings aspire to finish; and instead, write another to build upon for future teams down the line.
"They have worked incredibly hard all season," Vikings coach Megan Owens said. "They have an outstanding record (17-5-1) against a very challenging schedule. And, they're very hard workers ... they just rise above it. They're willing to put extra work in. Their effort: they always give 110% and they're playing for each other."
Vikings senior Julianna Drew put the Vikings on the board with a convincing strike with 22:28 left in the first half. Rawls eventually followed with the insurance goal early in the second half by settling down the ball ping-ponging off feet in the box for the 2-0 advantage.
"I think once we got a goal, our runs started to slow. I think we all kind of took a sigh of relief," Drew said. "Going into the second half, our coaches said we need to step it up, and I think that's when Liv stepped in and she took it into her own hands and got the goal."
Mia Lamz managed to put Bartlett (4-10-4) within striking distance after converting a highly skillful free kick from about 25 yards out that arced perfectly to the left to put a dent in the Vikings lead midway through the second half.
The Vikings peppered Bartlett with fruitful offensive chances, but sophomore goalie Megan Kron stood impressively tall amid the barrage of chances. Kron managed to stonewall a Rilee Hasegawa penalty kick attempt with 12:51 left in the second half, a snapshot of the evening she turned in.
"She had two PK saves against St. Charles East this year, and she's an absolute beast in net," Bartlett coach Vince Revak said of Kron, who had six saves. "Today, the thing we told her is, 'You just got to be fearless in there.' And, she was. She really was.
"She took some hits. She stood big in goal, and it's really nice having a keeper back there that you know, even if we do screw up, there's a good chance that we can come out alive," Revak continued.
Bartlett graduates three seniors: Brooke Baumann, Gianna Imperatrice, and CeCe Theiler.
"Even if we didn't have the best season on paper, I think the culture that these girls have created is fantastic. We have players this year that are playing through injury or sticking with the club and they still want to be around this group. That says absolute leagues of evidence that these girls want to be together. I think it bodes well for the future.
"There's plenty we can improve upon," Revak continued. "Just having that culture and seeing this resilience tonight, and that willingness to win, I think we're looking (solid for the future)."