Girls Soccer: Sarrah Ludwig scores twice to lead Downers South to sectional final

Updated: May 22, 2012 10:46PM

Sarrah Ludwig has been a beacon of hope for Downers Grove South this spring.

The senior forward, who has alopecia areata and has been bald since she was 3, has scored 24 goals, most of them on headers.

Ludwig scored two more goals with her noggin Tuesday night to lift Downers Grove South to an emotional 2-1 victory over York in a Class 3A Downers Grove South Sectional semifinal. The Mustangs (17-5-3) will host Hinsdale Central in Friday’s sectional title match.

“It’s really been a key to my goals this year,” said Ludwig, a Valparaiso recruit. “I’ve always been a good header, but this year I’ve just kind of sprung up, just gotten so much better. I love playing the ball with my head.”

Ludwig’s teammates love throwing it toward her head, knowing she can score with the front of her head or the back. She did both in this contest, using the front to nudge home Jessica Pikul’s in-swinging corner kick to give the Mustangs a 1-0 lead with 26:05 left in the second half and then utilizing the back to flick a long throw-in from Jessica Bronke inside the right post for what turned out to be the game-winner with 9:57 left.

“It’s like it’s calling,” Bronke said of Ludwig’s pate. “It’s like Sarrah’s head is glowing and I just throw it right to her. We’ve done it a lot.”

Ludwig, Pikul and Bronke were among the six starters whom Downers South coach Barry Jacobson elected to rest when the Mustangs faced York in the regular-season finale 12 days ago. They fumed on the bench as the Dukes routed them 5-0.

“A couple weeks ago they kind of killed us on our own field and they were coming in our turf again,” Ludwig said. “And we just wanted to prove to them that we’re not a team that is nothing.”

The Mustangs proved that and more in snapping the Dukes’ 11-game winning streak. They held York star Christina Ordonez to just four shots thanks to a great defensive effort from fullbacks Pikul, Lori Niehaus, Caitlin Carr and Shannon Snyder and goalie Cassidy Hermann, who made 10 saves.

York (20-5) did tie the game with 18:23 to go when Wisconsin-bound Courtney McHugh buried a beautiful 15-yard shot from the right wing to the short side, but the Mustangs refused to crumble.

“It was a great shot,” Ludwig said. “She’s got a heckuva shot. It was a little nerve-wracking but I knew we had plenty of time. I knew if we stayed calm and collected and we played as hard as we can, we’d get the second one.”

The Dukes had only one shot after Ludwig’s go-ahead strike, that coming with 9:00 left when Hermann saved Ordonez’s header off a McHugh corner kick. Pikul, the star of a defense that has pitched 15 shutouts and given up only 12 goals when the starters are in, said she learned a lot from observing the Dukes during the first meeting.

“That one game we were watching their players a lot, especially their forwards, and we just picked on that,” Pikul said. “W knew that a lot of times the ball went to them and that they were their key players. You saw [McHugh] score on an amazing shot. They’re good, but we knew we had to stick with them and not let them turn and get shots off.”

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