Girls soccer: Lincoln-Way East stops Hinsdale Central in supersectionals

As Hinsdale Central's Tony Madonia prepared for this fifth season as head coach, his program was ready to take another step. For the first time, Madonia named team captains in the offseason - seniors Ava Elliott, Carter Knotts and Maddy Panveno.

"It was really exciting for us three because once we knew, we were really excited to get to season and get to work," Elliott said. "We three, we all love it. This is like our second family. It made us more ready for the season."

On the field, the Red Devils also broke new ground. They won their first regional since 2016 and their first sectional since 2015. On Tuesday, they nearly earned their first state finals berth since 2013 but lost to Lincoln-Way East 1-0 in the Class 3A Andrew Super-Sectional.

With the Red Devils (16-8-2) having only two senior starters (Elliott and Knotts) and two other seniors (Panvero and Madison Lipman), this probably is only the beginning.

"The program, as I've gone through it, has shown a lot more dedication as well as commitment overall," said Knotts, who joined the team as a junior after playing club. "It will continue to because we have a strong group of underclassmen as well as juniors to continue forward with what we created here."

Hinsdale Central was coming off playoff victories over teams that beat them in the regular season, York 3-0 and the come-from-behind 2-1 overtime victory over Lyons Township to win the sectional. Like the LT game, the Red Devils fell behind in the first 10 minutes Tuesday. Junior Bre Herlihy scored 8:43 into the game off a through pass from Emily Herlihy, her twin sister.

The Griffins (21-4) will get their program's first top-four state trophy in their third state trip. They lost in 2006 and 2004 when quarterfinals were included.

"They just jammed that box. They packed it and it was hard to get anything into their back line," Madonia said. "The second half, we did everything we could. I was impressed with we kept the ball on their side of the field, the middle of the field, played exceptionally hard. Just finding that big rectangle (goal) was kind of hard today."

Hinsdale Central pressed the last eight minutes of the first half and controlled possession most of the second half but got few scoring opportunities. The Red Devils' best shot was probably the 46th minute, when defender Adriana Giannini put a 20-yard blast just over the goal. Meanwhile, Hinsdale Central goalie Katherine Skinner snuffed a dangerous rebound and saved a point-blank shot.

"We have three freshmen on our back line, three sophomores (playing)," Madonia said. "These girls proved that it doesn't matter what the breakdown of your team is. If you believe and everybody's working tough, and good leadership - Ava, Carter, Maddy - you can accomplish everything you want."

Knotts (13 goals, 10 assists) and juniors Avery Edgewater (13 goals, 3 assists) and Claire Snodgrass and Cate McDonnell (6 goals, 5 assists each) were the Red Devils' leading scorers. Edgewater scored the game-winner against LT with Knotts assisting.

"(I'll remember) more so just celebrating with the team after the fact. The win in general, not just the goal," Edgewater said. "It stinks that we lost today but I think that we gave it our all and I wouldn't change a thing."

When Madonia praised the seniors, he mentioned things like their fundraising soccer camp and gear drive. Elliott also helped Madonia begin playing the 'Grease' theme song after getting off bus rides for every game since midseason.

"It's walk in twos and play 'Grease,' " Knotts said.

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