Heads-up Naperville Central edges Waubonsie Valley
Updated: March 21, 2012 9:06PM
No one can accuse Naperville Central’s players of not using their heads.
The No. 5 Redhawks scored twice on headers Wednesday night to knock off No. 10 Waubonsie Valley 2-1 at North Central College. The win improved Naperville Central to 5-0 for the first time in school history.
Junior Veronica Ellis scored the game-winner for the Redhawks with 32:41 left in the second half when she headed home a cross from Abby Joyce from three yards out. Joyce began the play by shedding a defender to the right end line before sending a cross in tight to the unguarded Ellis.
“That second goal we got it down in the corner and Abby Joyce undressed the defender and then laid off a ball that the keeper couldn’t get,” Naperville Central coach Ed Watson said.
For Ellis the goal represented a triumphant return in her first game back since undergoing surgery for a torn ACL in August.
“It got passed to Abby and I just made the run back side and I was shuffling between far post and near post, didn’t know exactly where she was going to put it,” said Ellis, an Indiana recruit. “Abby looked up and I saw her lift her head up and look for me and she played it right to me.”
The Redhawks had used similar precision to tie the game 1-1 at the 15:30 mark of the first half. Katherine Short sent a corner kick in front to senior Meredith McEniff, who muscled a screaming header from eight yards out that Waubonsie Valley goalie Emma Rigby got a hand on but couldn’t stop.
“Katherine hit a great corner and Meredith, she’ll attack the ball,” Watson said. “She’s pretty good in the air. She just absolutely attacks the ball.”
The goal was the team-leading third of the season for the Iowa-bound McEniff. Two have come on headers.
“I think it’s the power of the pass,” McEniff said of her success in the air. “I don’t really have to do much except kind of get a head on it. At practice we’ve been working a lot on free kicks and corner kicks and trying to get on the end of them and Katherine played a perfect ball and I was kind of not really marked in the middle and so I just kind of got on the end of it.”
The Warriors (2-1-1) had taken the lead 3:10 earlier when Shannon Donelson scored from 10 yards out after a cross from Kristen Brots was deflected right to her. It was the only decent scoring chance for Waubonsie, which was outshot 16-6 and kept in the game by the play of Rigby, a freshman who is part of the Olympic Development Program in her age group.
The 5-4 Rigby made 10 saves, including several tremendous stops on Short, who tried to exploit Rigby’s lack of height by launching 30-yard rockets that were ticketed for the top shelf.
“We saw Waubonsie play the night before and they tend to back up defensively instead of come at you, so we felt that there were going to be shot opportunities if they dropped,” Watson said. “They created our space by dropping and Katherine doesn’t have to be told twice to shoot. If it wasn’t for Rigby, the freshman keeper, she probably would have had three tonight. [Rigby] is phenomenal.”
“They play a lot of kick and run because they’re really fast so we just didn’t have the accuracy that we usually do, so we kind of got outplayed in the midfield,” Rigby said. “That was kind of our downfall.”
But Rigby, one of Waubonsie’s 12 rookies, is enjoying playing tough competition early in her career.
“It’s really good experience actually because then it allows me to grow and then as I get older I can be that much better because I’m used to the play,” Rigby said.