Girls Soccer: Nina Izzo’s overtime header lifts Queen of Peace into first sectional final
Updated: May 16, 2012 7:44PM
Queen of Peace sophomore forward Nina Izzo had never scored a goal on a header before Wednesday.
Nobody who witnessed her first such score will ever forget it.
Izzo used her noggin to tally the biggest goal in school history, knocking in a cross from sophomore midfielder Zitaly Perez in overtime to give Queen of Peace a 1-0 upset victory over Mendota in a Class 1A Lisle Sectional semifinal.
The historic victory moves the Pride (12-11-2) into the sectional finals for the first time. Queen of Peace, which was playing just its second sectional semifinal in school history, will take on Lisle (12-10-2) in Saturday’s sectional championship game.
“It’s an amazing feeling, especially since our school hasn’t [appeared in a sectional] since ’05,” said Izzo, who has a team-leading 28 goals. “It’s just amazing to be a part of this team.”
Mendota (17-6), which was making its sectional debut, dominated in regulation, especially during a second half in which the Pride rarely got the ball out of its own end. But behind a tenacious defense led by juniors Kathleen Miller and Magie Nowobilski and the play of junior goalie Vanessa Gonzalez, Queen of Peace kept the Trojans off the scoreboard.
“This has been a signature of this team all year is just never give up, never give up,” said Queen of Peace coach Tom Schergen, whose team won just one game last season. “Their hard work is what got them here and then they continue and continue to push and push and push.
“The second half wasn’t in our favor. We were dominated but these girls found a way to consistently keep the ball out of the goal and that’s the name of the game. You keep the ball out of the goal, you keep yourself in the game and you give yourself a chance to win and that’s exactly what they did.”
The Pride did have a little luck on their side. Gonzalez made seven saves in recording the shutout, but she had the ball taken away from her by Mendota freshman Abby Bromenschenkel with 8:20 left in regulation.
Bromenschenkel had only to tap the ball into the empty net but somehow missed from just four yards out.
“All we were thinking when she got it and went past our goalie was we’re going to be down 1-0, we have to make an adjustment now to be able to come back and score,” Schergen said. “When it missed, everyone was looking at each other and saying, ‘did we all just see the same thing?’ I feel terrible for that girl. You don’t wish that upon anybody to miss a goal like that.”
Izzo, who was held to only two shots in regulation, didn’t miss when given her first good chance. Perez dribbled to the left end line and sent a cross in front to Izzo, who out-jumped a defender and saw her header trickle inside the right post 1:47 into the extra period.
“I just remember my teammate, Zitaly, she went down the left side,” Izzo said. “She kicked it towards the middle and I just headed it. At first I didn’t think it was going in and then I saw it rolling in. I was like, ‘oh, my God, this is amazing.’ ’’
Izzo’s goal came on just the sixth shot of the game for Queen of Peace, which managed only one shot in the second half.
“We talked about needing to get back to what we like to do, which is exactly what [Perez] did, bringing the ball down the outside and crossing it over,” Schergen said. “We knew in a game like this Nina…was going to be marked up tight, which she was. The only way to get her free was to have someone else bring the ball down and get it over and let her work off that man-mark that way. It took us 84 or 85 minutes to do it, but they finally did it.”