Redhawks roll into regional soccer finalsJessica Munkvold of Plainfield Central and Maddie Thompson (6) of Naperville Central battle for a header. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
Naperville Central was late to answer the bell on offense. But once it did, there was no stopping the Redhawks in their Class 3A regional girls soccer opener Wednesday.
Third-seeded Naperville Central fended off 14th-seeded Plainfield Central for an 8-1 win.
Playing on their home field, the Redhawks (13-6-3) didn’t score until freshman Abby Joyce found the net with 3 minutes, 21 seconds to go in the first half.“We had a few near-misses in the first half,” Naperville Central coach Ed Watson said. “We hit metal four times before the first goal was scored.”
Naperville Central did keep Plainfield goalkeeper Janna Pascente (18 saves) busy throughout the game.
The Redhawks then exploded for seven second-half goals. Junior forward Katherine Short earned a hat trick and four Redhawks scored their first goals of the season. They were Joyce, classmate Grace Orndorff and juniors Kristen Krebs and Natalie Selk.
Short scored the second goal for Naperville Central in the 42nd minute, then tallied her second goal of the afternoon in the 48th minute.
Senior Ashley Tegge scored next, followed by Orndorff, Krebs, Short again for the hat trick, and Selk.
Short’s first goal gave the team momentum after a rocky first half.
“I think the first one was the best of the three tonight, I guess, because it kind of got the rest of our team motivated because we got a comfortable lead then and it kind of made us relax more and we were able to take more shots,” Short said. “We were able to gain composure again and kick (the shots) in.”
She said a halftime pep talk helped refocus the team.
“Coach kind of motivated us and pushed us to actually get it in the goal this time,” Short said. “Because, we had a lot of shots the first half but coach told us, ‘Listen, we need to calm down and we’ve got to get it in the goal. That calmed us down and we eventually gained our composure and scored a bunch of goals.”
Junior Jill D’Amico made two saves for the Redhawks before fellow junior Jill Smolinski took over and made one save. The Wildcats (8-13-1) got on the board with a Kelsey Graefen goal off a free kick with 8 minutes, 50 seconds remaining.
Their coach, Ken Schoen, said he was proud of his girls’ effort despite being the heavy underdog, based on sectional seeding and record.
“They just want to come out and play hard,” he said. “When they see good competition, the girls always seem to step up their game. I was confident that they’d come out and play hard.”
He blamed several second-half “mental lapses” for the defensive breakdowns that allowed the Naperville Central onslaught.