Girls Soccer: Down a player, Lincoln-Way Central rallies to beat StaggLincoln-Way Central's Allison Lambert (6) clears a crossing ball. |Allen Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 7, 2012 9:24PM
Late in the first half of Monday’s contest between Lincoln-Way Central and Stagg, the Knights found themselves down a goal and down a player for the rest of the match.
Lincoln-Way Central refused to let its conference title slip away, dominating the second half and rallying for a 2-1 SouthWest Suburban Red win in Palos Hills.
The Knights (14-8, 5-1) clinched at least a share of the Red title – its first league crown since 2007 - and can win the league outright if Lincoln-Way North loses either of its last two matches against Thornwood co-op and Lincoln-Way West.
“We showed we have heart,” Central’s Caley Michalak said. “Since we were a player down, we had to step up our games and be more aggressive. We wanted to be conference champions so bad.”
Michalak’s goal with 4:49 left in the match broke a 1-1 tie. The senior took a touch facing her own goal, turned and fired a left-footed shot from 35 yards out that found its way into the upper right corner of the net.
“My teammates were able to get it to me,” she said. “It felt good coming off my foot and it was just amazing seeing it go in.”
The Chargers (11-6-1, 4-2) appeared on their way to clinching a share of the title after Sarah Mussallem converted a penalty kick with 3:01 left in the first half for a 1-0 lead.
The penalty came after Central’s Paige Proctor was called for a handball in the box, which also earned her a red card.
But despite playing shorthanded, the Knights spent the vast majority of the final 30 minutes on the attack.
On its fourth corner kick in a two-minute span, Central broke through. Lauren Kelly’s cross found Rachel Post, who headed it home to tie it with 29:19 left.
Central had success with a 3-3-3 formation, and Central coach Dan Radz credited Allison Lambert, Katie Bartuch and Kelly for helping make it work.
“To come in their place on Senior Night, be a player down and win, this is going to go down as one of my best wins ever,” Radz said. “The girls deserve all the credit.”
Stagg coach Mike Kealy also was impressed with the Knights’ heart.
“I’ve been doing this for 10 years and I’ve never seen a team down a man like that play with that kind of determination,” he said. “They took it to us. Our girls are resilient, so hopefully they can bounce back and make some noise in the playoffs.”
Claire Heneghan made four saves for the Chargers.