Top-ranked Neuqua cruises in regional openerNeuqua Valley's Emily Bowie directs a corner kick toward the Plainfield East goal as Ally Togliatti (5) defends. | Jeff Cagle~ For Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 17, 2011 9:45PM
“Put it on frame,” came the call from the bench and Neuqua Valley girls soccer coach Joe Moreau.
Wildcats senior defender Megan Oyster fired her free kick from 35 yards out and just missed, the ball hitting the top of the crossbar.
The UCLA recruit’s shot seemed like the only ball No. 1 Neuqua did not get in net, getting six goals and 20 shots on goal in the first half alone of Thursday afternoon’s 7-0 victory over Plainfield East in a Neuqua Valley Class 3A Sectional semifinal game.
“Playoffs are a different season,” Moreau said. “We wanted to have our intensity up and I thought we were intense from the moment we stepped out for warmups.”
Wildcats senior midfielder Noelle Leary opened the scoring nine minutes in on a cross through the box from sophomore Zoey Goralski, the pair’s second attempt at virtually the same pass and shot.
“I saw that ball coming in from Zoey and I said ‘I’m not letting this one go,’” said Leary, whose first shot attempt went into the side netting. “Our word this year is ‘Finish’ and I missed a very easy goal. That cannot happen later on as we go forward. I had to make sure I put the next one in.”
Then seniors Allie McBride and Alexa Wilde were the recipients of passes from midfielder Hope D’Addario to the heads of both players, the latter coming on a corner, but the former unexpectedly coming on a cross 25 yards from the endline on the right sideline.
“I don’t normally go on the outside, but no one else was around so I figured I’d take it,” D’Addario said. “If I took an extra touch, I was worried the defender would catch up to me. (The ball) was sitting up nicely so I figured I’d try and swing around and get a cross and it worked.”
Said Moreau: “We know where the runners have to be and the runners were in the right spot. That’s something we work on.”
Leary added her second goal 19 seconds after McBride, rocketing a left-footed shot from 18 yards just under the crossbar.
“It’s definitely good to have a variety of players scoring because it’s going to be hard to mark just one person because everyone can contribute,” Leary said.
Plainfield East (11-7-2) could not stop Neuqua (22-0) or a string of goals, even the lucky ones.
Senior Lauren Noonan got a goal in the 26th minute when her left cross hopped once in the 6-foot box and over Bengals goalie Jessica Vargas, who was worried about Wildcats junior Meghan Kelly trying to head the ball.
Ten minutes later, freshman Olivia Schmitt turned and lofted a 25-yard shot on goal that floated just over Vargas and in for a 6-0 halftime lead.
“This is something we want to aspire to be, something we’re working toward,” said Bengals coach Jamie Caruso about the Wildcats program. “This is only our second year at the varsity level and we have a goal in mind of what we’d like to get to and they’re pretty much it.”
Goralski got a goal just over a minute into the second half, which allowed Neuqua to pull all its starters, shorten the clock and effectively begin preparation for Friday’s regional final against the winner of Wednesday’s matchup between Benet and Wheaton-Warrenville South.
“They’re both very good programs and both very good teams,” Moreau said. “No matter what, it will be a tough game.”