AURORA – Last year, girls soccer team knocked out rival in the regional title game in a one-goal game.
Tuesday, in the Class 3A Waubonsie Valley Sectional semifinals, the Huskies were able to turn the tables.
In a game that didn’t feature many offensive chances, North scored early and hung on for a 1-0 win. The Huskies advance to Friday’s sectional title game against the No. 1 team in the nation, according to ESPNrise.com, at 6:30 p.m.
With 30:51 left in the first half, North junior Hunter Drendel laid off a pass to sophomore center mid Christa Szalach who promptly pounded a 25-yard shot to the upper right corner of the net past Central goalie Jill D’Amico. The Huskies (15-5-1) managed to make the goal stand for the final 69:51.
“It’s crazy, we lost in the playoffs to them last year on a free kick,” Szalach said. “It was terrible. They always bring good competition to the table, so this is amazing.”
Szalach was in attack mode at the time of the goal, before settling into more of a defensive stance in the second half, when Central was playing with the wind.
“(Coach Brent Terada) tells me to take the shot if I have it, so I was just focusing on that,” Szalach said. “I thought I had an open shot and I took it.”
Terada was just as excited about Drendel’s assist as Szalach’s goal.
“Hunter made a great decision there,” Terada said. “Rather than risk a rough turn or a bad turn, she did the unselfish thing and played it off to a midfielder. That was a great goal for us, for sure. That was a great hit, no way around it.”
Central (14-7-3) only managed two shots on goal the whole night, one in each half from freshman Abby Joyce. But the Redhawks definitely controlled the pace of play in the second half, playing with a stiff wind.
Their best scoring chance didn’t come on a shot on frame, but one just off of it. Junior Katherine Short, who scored the game-winner with a long free kick against Plainfield North in the regional title game Saturday, nearly put away another long shot Tuesday.
With 10:16 left in the game, Short lined up from 20 yards out and saw her shot bounce off the crossbar, keeping North in the lead.
Central was hoping for another chance to play Neuqua. The Wildcats topped Central, 6-2, on April 16.
“It would have been nice to get another opportunity with them since they embarrassed us the first time,” Central coach Ed Watson said. “It would have been nice for us to shot that we have some pride.”
North lost to Neuqua, 1-0, early in the year and the Huskies are ready for a shot at the 24-0 Wildcats, who blew out defending Class 3A state champion Waubonsie Valley, 5-1, in the other semifinal.
“From here on out, it’s just a matter of doing the best we can and taking advantage of what we can take advantage of,” Terada said. “If we play our best, that’s all you can ask for. Results, whether they come or not, we’ll do our best and play like there is no tomorrow.”