It was a fight to the finish when No. 3-seeded St. Viator met No. 4 Lake Forest for the Class 2A Deerfield girls soccer championship Friday night.
The game was a defensive struggle the entire way as the two teams battled to a scoreless tie after regulation play as well as for the first 10 minutes of overtime.
But it was a combination of freshmen that made the difference for Lake Forest (14-10) in the end. Lily Remus assisted teammate Madelyn Cummins for what proved to be the winning goal 1:12 into the second half of overtime to carry the Scouts to a hard-fought 1-0 victory over the Lions for the sectional crown.
With the win, Lake Forest advanced to the Grayslake Central supersectional Tuesday at 6 p.m. against Crystal Lake Central. St. Viator closed out the 2023 season with an 18-6-2 record. The state tourney is next weekend at North Central College in Naperville.
St. Viator sophomore goalkeeper Kylie Ziebka had been flawless the entire contest until Remus made a short pass to Cummins, who booted a shot from about 20 yards out on the left wing into the net to finally break up the scoreless deadlock 91 minutes and 12 seconds into the game.
“The first half we found out we can play with them. They are a dangerous team, and we did a really good job containing that talent,” said Lake Forest coach Ty Stuckslager, whose team outshot St. Viator 7-3 overall. “Our two little freshmen (Cummins and Remus) did a great job. Our goal is just to get better every game. We’re peaking at the right time, and we just strive to play a good game every game.”
Even after the Scouts had taken the 1-0 lead in the second half of overtime the Lions still had a chance to force a shootout by tying the game or even winning it with two goals. But Lake Forest goalkeeper Sarah Constantine turned away a shot on goal by St. Viator freshman Jenna Caputo with 2:26 remaining in the second half of overtime to help preserve the victory for the Scouts.
“We’re a young team and 65 percent of our team is freshmen and sophomores so it’s exciting to get this far,” said St. Viator coach Byron DeLeon, whose team was outshot 5-1 in regulation play. “Honestly it could have gone either way. Good job by them, and I felt it was a good match. We had our chances and they had there’s.”
One of the Lions’ best scoring opportunities came with 15:50 left in the first half when senior Bella Scheidecker’s header attempt off a corner kick went wide left of the Lake Forest goal. Ziebka also made a save on Lily Cran, who took a shot right in front of Ziebka midway through the first half of overtime.
The Scouts also had a good chance to get on the scoreboard with 7:57 to go in the second half, but Cummins’ shot from the right wing sailed over the St. Viator goal.
“Last year we lost in the semifinals of the sectionals and this year we improved and got to the finals of the sectionals,” added DeLeon. “I am very proud of the way that the girls played throughout the season, and we’re looking forward to next season.”