Girls Soccer: Emily Gaither propels Manteno into Class 1A title game

Updated: May 25, 2012 9:21PM

When Manteno’s sophomore scoring leader Emily Gaither went out with an ankle injury 11 minutes into the second half of Friday’s Class 1A state semifinal against Lisle, it represented the most anxious moment the Panthers had all match long.

Gaither scored two first-half goals, then returned after her injury to the relief of teammates and finished off the match as she led Manteno to a 4-0 victory at North Central College in Naperville.

The win put Manteno (22-3) in Saturday’s 7 p.m. championship match.

“It’s great to get an early lead and then be able to relax a little bit the rest of the game,” said Gaither, whose goals were her 35th and 36th of the season.

The first score came 3:59 into the match after Lisle goal keeper Vanessa Roach had some indecision about a loose ball and kicked it instead of fielding it. The kick deflected off a teammate and caromed over to Gaither, who drilled it into the net.

Gaither then got wide open and scored off a feed from sophomore forward Sophia Schnitzler with 21:18 left in the first half. Gaither had two other point-blank chances in the first half — one off the crossbar and the other just a foot left of the goal post.

Manteno dominated play in such a fashion that second-half goal keeper Emma Shores made her team’s first save with 8:18 left in the match. The Panthers’ second-half goals came on a free kick by senior mid-fielder Brittani McCorkle with 21:17 to play and on an unassisted score by Schnitzler with 18:05 remaining.

“We really did not play well today for the most part,” Manteno coach Jake Emerson said. “The two goals in the first half were basically our forwards working hard and capitalizing on a couple miscues of theirs in the back.

“I thought we settled down a little bit in the second half and played a little better.”

Manteno’s win was its third of the season over Lisle (14-11-2), a young team which started the postseason with a losing record.

“This experience getting here this weekend is invaluable,” Lisle coach Paul Kohorn said. “Frankly, the fact we beat St. Edward last Tuesday (in the supersectional) is pretty amazing.

“Our team can play against anybody we’ve seen all year, but doesn’t seem to be able to play a full 80 minutes — that I guess I can attribute to age.”

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