Marian set to host soccer regional
The IHSA Class 2A girls soccer regional runs Tuesday to Friday, May 15 through 18, at Marian Central. The tournament will include four teams hungry for playoff victories and a chance to progress to the Belvidere Sectional Tuesday, May 22.
The first match of the regional will take place between Prairie Ridge (12-5-1) and Woodstock High School (11-11-1) at 4 p.m. Tuesday, May 15. Prairie Ridge is the team to beat, entering the competition with the highest win total, but the Streaks’ first-year head coach Mike Golda believes anything is possible in such a high-stakes tournament.
“These last three weeks I’d say the girls have really been playing their best soccer, and that’s what we’re excited about,” said Golda. “Playing your most confident soccer and your best soccer coming into the playoffs is big. I think any team can win on any day.
“Now with that being said, do I think Prairie Ridge is going to be a tough team? Definitely. We’re going to have to play very tough defense and we’re going to have to create chances off that defense in order to create our own scoring opportunities.”
Returning to the roster for Woodstock after missing games due to a concussion is senior Sarah Lohmeyer. She hopes to keep her teammates upbeat and supportive of one another.
“There were four games this season that we should have won,” said Lohmeyer. “We’ve grown as a team, moving the ball with each other more and switching the field well.”
Senior Yessenia Estrada, junior Marcella Pautrat and sophomore Anna Lopatin will be a key part of that equation along with Lohmeyer.
The second match will pair returning IHSA Class 2A runner-up Marian Central (11-9-2) with Woodstock North (8-9-2). Marian has struggled to regain the momentum that carried them to the championship game last season, although they displayed moments of winning style in their recent draw with powerhouse Carmel Catholic, a team that defeated Prairie Ridge 4-0 to start the season.
“Every loss, including the earlier defeat to Prairie Ridge, has made us hungrier,” head coach Kristian Rockall said of the Hurricanes’ early-season 2-0 loss to the Wolves. “The girls refuse to give up even if we are losing 3-0 with five minutes remaining in a game.
“In fact, if anything, they seem to step it up and work harder the more they get behind.”
The Lady ’Canes also look forward to a regional home-field advantage and fan support that seniors Sam Koffler and Susan Piggot believe helped them maintain their intensity in the May 9 game with Carmel.
“It helped with our fitness and tested us with how far we could go,” said Koffler. “Most of us were on for the whole game. It taught us to never give up even when you feel like you’re dying. When we get it going, you can’t stop us.”
“The physical battle really got us motivated,” added Piggot.
North coach Lauren Farley will counter the Lady ’Canes’ strong offense with a stalwart defensive core that has learned from its mistakes and its nine losses, many of which came against stiff competition.
“When that happens, it makes you look at ways that you play,” said Farley. “It’s been good that we’ve been able to play some of those challenging teams because it has helped us figure out parts of our defense and our attack that we needed to fix.”
Sophomore Manda Landrey is part of the Thunder defense that is eager to take on Marian Central. Farley also will call on Landrey’s sister, Rachael, and junior Jen Conley.
“We do very well at passing the ball and finding open looks,” said Manda Landrey. “Everyone is doing their best and we work hard as a team because we know we can come out strong and finish strong.”
The teams that finish strongest and win their first games in the regional will regroup for the final, which will be played at Marian at 4 p.m. Friday, May 18. The winner will face the champion of the Burlington Central regional at Belvidere at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 22.