Girls soccer: Hasegawa kicks Geneva past South Elgin, into sectional semifinals
A determined Geneva offense was thwarted by a single-minded South Elgin defense throughout Saturday's Class 3A regional championship.
The Vikings controlled the run-of-play and took over 20 shots on goal. The host Storm countered by intercepting Geneva's crosses and blocking the scoring attempts.
Geneva finally capitalized on a South Elgin miscue late in the match and scored the contest's only goal to win its first regional crown since 2017.
The Vikings advance to the West Chicago sectional and will play DuKane Conference rival St. Charles North in the second semifinal match on Tuesday.
With 11:14 left to play, South Elgin goalkeeper Karissa Cruz deflected Rilee Hasegawa's sixth shot on goal. During the ensuing scrum inside the penalty box to get control of the ball, officials whistled South Elgin for a foul.
Hasegawa, a Florida Southern commit, lined up for the penalty kick and knocked the ball into the upper left corner of the goal.
The senior had prepared for this situation.
"I went through the scenario. It's my senior year and.everything is on the line. I had been visualizing the moment replaying it over and over in my head," Hasegawa said. "We practice PKs during practice every day. I visualized where I wanted it and place it there."
Cruz stopped 15 Geneva shots. Other Viking scoring attempts were deflected by Storm defenders.
"They did a good job of playing in the back. They had five to six players in the back so it's just hard to get through," Geneva coach Megan Owens said. "Our offense was just so strong. I think offensively we dominated. We had so, so many opportunities. It was just a matter of we had to do to finish one."
South Elgin coach Jerzy Skowron had high praise for his defenders.
"Karissa is one of the best goalkeepers in the state. Leslie (Ulloa) is one of the best defenders in the state. She's just been fantastic all season," said the Storm coach. "Ashley (Gonzalez) was amazing today, probably the best game she's played all season."
"I think we came out really strong. A lot was on the line, a regional title," Cruz said.
The senior will continue her soccer career next year at Dubuque.
The Storm made few incursions into Vikings territory. South Elgin's best scoring opportunity came early in the second half. Freshman Nevaeh Gyurko got a shot off in the 48th minute from the top right corner of the penalty box that went wide.
Owens felt Geneva's defense also turned in a strong performance.
"I think my defenders, Bella Walls (a Richmond recruit), Morgan Rudowicz, Cami Bishop, Luci Okolita and at times Leyna Yonehara, did a great job of shutting them down. They did a great job of playing out of the back so we could just concentrate on our offense," the Geneva coach said. "We played total team defense and didn't give South Elgin the opportunity to really pressure us at all or get many (scoring) opportunities."
The Vikings will take the rest of the weekend off to savor the win and dance.
"I just want them to enjoy this moment, go out, enjoy prom. We'll regroup on Monday," Owens said. "We'll just need to go out (Tuesday) and leave it all on the field and finish some of the opportunities we create."
Geneva (18-5-1), seeded third in the West Chicago sectional, dropped a 2-1 decision to second seed St. Charles North (15-3-2) last month.
The Storm finished Skowron's first year as the girls coach with an Upstate Eight Conference title and a 10-9-2 record. He has headed the boys program for four years.