Girls Soccer: Metea Valley shocks Neuqua ValleyMetea Valley goalkeeper Megan Geldernick stops Neuqua Valley's Emily Bowie in the first half Wednesday in Aurora,
Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media
Despite Metea Valley’s hot start and talented roster, there were still people who doubted the second-year Mustangs were ready for prime time.
Those doubts vanished Wednesday night.
Metea Valley got the signature win it was looking for, rallying three times in dramatic fashion to stun nationally ranked Neuqua Valley 4-3 in Upstate Eight Valley action in Aurora.
It is the first time the No. 10 Mustangs (9-1, 2-1) have knocked off a ranked opponent and the first time No. 3 Neuqua Valley has given up four goals in a game in the 10 years head coach Joe Moreau has been with the program.
Senior Kristina Tomaras led host Metea by scoring a goal and three assists. Her corner kick set up the game-winning goal by junior McKenzie Sheesley with 7:30 remaining in the second half and just like that the perception of Metea’s program shifted.
“It changes, definitely,” Sheesley said. “I think Neuqua is a very big, top team and if we can beat Neuqua we can beat anyone.”
The Mustangs lost 1-0 last Saturday to another District 204 rival, Waubonsie Valley, which in turn was beaten 1-0 by Neuqua Valley on Tuesday. But Tomaras had no doubt her team could take down the Wildcats (5-2-1, 1-1).
“Our team was really confident in ourselves, but people doubt us because Neuqua and Waubonsie have always been up top there,” Tomaras said. “It’s just been our goal as a new program to show everyone that we can compete with them.
“It’s really important for us to prove ourselves to everyone and hopefully this will wake everyone up and (they’ll) be like, ‘Wow, they can actually compete with the top teams in our conference.’”
Neuqua Valley had the lead three times but failed to hold each one for long. Gianna Dal Pozzo gave the visitors a 1-0 lead on a penalty kick with 23:48 left in the first half, but the Mustangs equalized three minutes later when Tomaras sent a perfect cross from the right wing to freshman Elena Sidwell, who tallied her first career goal with a strong finish from 18 yards out.
Neuqua grabbed a 2-1 lead at the 12:37 mark when Katie Ciesiulka scored on a six-yard shot off a feed from Zoey Goralski, but that failed to dent Metea’s confidence.
“At halftime we weren’t down at all,” Tomaras said. “We were really confident in ourselves and we knew that we had to get it in as soon as we could and pressure them and get past their defense.”
The Mustangs wasted little time in doing so as Jenna Kentgen headed home a Tomaras corner kick 90 seconds into the second half.
Neuqua Valley stepped up its attack and Goralski hit the right post on a shot with 17:00 left. She kept attacking and gave the Wildcats a 3-2 lead with a 15-yard shot at the 11:47 mark.
But Metea retaliated just 26 seconds as Kentgen made an aggressive move into the penalty area and her shot in traffic drew a hand ball call on Neuqua. Tomaras converted the ensuing penalty kick, then set up Sheesley four minutes later with a perfect corner kick within four yards of the net.
“I started out on the outside because that’s my spot – to go wide in case it goes over – and it went right in and I whipped right into the space and got it in,” Sheesley said. “It feels amazing.”
Neuqua, which outshot Metea 17-12, had plenty of chances after that, but Dal Pozzo’s 12-yard shot hit the underside of the crossbar with 4:30 left and Ciesiulka missed high on the rebound.
Metea Valley goalie Megan Geldernick finished with five saves, including stops on Goralski and Talise Romain in the closing minutes.
“I thought they played well,” Moreau said. “They defended in the midfield very well and they tackled decently. We had some breakdowns in the back line.
“We’ve got to finish some of the chances we have and you can’t give up four goals.”