Romano leads Waubonsie Valley past Downers SouthWaubonsie Valley's Kristen Brots dribbles past Downers Grove South's Lauren Tusek. | Mike Mantucca~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 20, 2011 10:10PM
The scouting report on how to solve Downers South’s otherwise tough defense is simple – aim for the top shelf on long shots.
Waubonsie Valley sophomore Jenna Romano claims not to have heard about that, but she followed that advice to the letter on Friday. As a result, the defending Class 3A state champion Warriors are still alive in their quest for a fourth state title in the past five years.
Romano drilled a 44-yard free kick just under the crossbar in the first half and set up another goal on a long free kick in the second half as No. 8 Waubonsie beat No. 10 Downers South 2-1 to win the Bolingbrook Regional despite being outplayed for much of the match.
“I did not know (the scouting report) whatsoever, but in the game before I (scored on) the exact same free kick, so I guess I just built some confidence (with) that goal, just because I knew I could strike it that far,” Romano said. “I just imagined the goal in my head and then just went for it.”
Romano’s blast, which gave the Warriors (17-5) a 1-0 lead with 15:40 left in the first half, went off the fingertips of leaping Downers South goalie Katelyn Laraia and just under the crossbar. Laraia, a freshman who made one save, was making only her fourth career start.
“That’s what we were afraid of,” Downers South coach Barry Jacobson said. “Everybody knows our weakness. Everybody knows that you send the ball high up against and it’s going in and that’s the difference in the game at this level.
“It’s a one-goal game and (if) we give them 45-yard free kicks game after game, you can’t win.”
The Warriors, who have won 10 straight games and 14 of their last 15, extended the lead to 2-0 at the 33:27 mark of the second half on a goal by freshman Kristen Dodson. Romano sent a 42-yard free kick deep into the Mustangs’ box, where it hit a defender. Dodson corralled it, turned and fired from four yards out for her third career goal and first since April 2.
“It just kind of popped out and I saw an opportunity,” Dodson said. “No one was going to the ball so I just (got it).”
Other than that, it was all Mustangs. Downers South (18-4-1) outshot the Warriors 21-7 and had plenty of chances to score. But Waubonsie goalie Jordan Myers made 10 saves, the Mustangs’ Sarrah Ludwig hit the post with a header and Downers did not score until 6:33 remained in the game.
That’s when Myers dropped a towering 47-yard free kick from Jessica Bronke and Keri Kujawa rammed home the rebound. But that proved to be the last shot on goal for Downers South, which lost its leading scorer, freshman striker Stephanie Zurales, to a knee injury late in the first half.
“I think (Myers) is just picking it up every single game, making more saves than we thought she probably could,” Romano said. “I think she saved our butts most of the time, so she’s definitely doing really good.”
That’s why Waubonsie will be taking on top-ranked Neuqua Valley (23-0) in the Waubonsie Valley Sectional semifinals on Tuesday and Downers South failed to win a regional title for the second straight year despite winning 32 games over that span.
“It all comes down to goalkeeping,” Jacobson said. “Their kid made some nice plays; ours didn’t. We had a great season. We’re proud of our kids.”