2A girls soccer: Streator only scores 2, only needs 2 to advance past Ottawa

Bulldogs control possession to move on to regional semifinals

Streator's Ophelia Orozco (left) kicks the balll away from Ottawa's Sophia Falaney during the Class 2A La Salle-Peru Regional quarterfinal Friday, May 10, 2024, at James Street Recreation Area in Streator.

STREATOR – Peppering shots on net, controlling the soccer ball and getting two goals over a 2 1/2-minute span, it looked during the opening 25 minutes as if the Streator Bulldogs might run away with their regional quarterfinal match against Route 23 rival Ottawa.

The Pirates never let them, but those two goals combined with Streator’s ball control proved to be enough.

Streator shut out Ottawa 2-0 in the play-in game of the Class 2A La Salle-Peru Regional on Friday at the new field in the James Street Recreation Area. With the win, the Bulldogs (11-10-3) move into the regional proper, facing top-seeded Morton at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the L-P Athletic Complex.

“I’m going to be interested to look at the Hudl [game video],” Streator coach J.T. Huey said, “because I think the ball distribution – you can measure how many [passing] strings you get, two-plus, three-plus, four-plus – I’m going to bet that ratio is pretty high. We did a really nice job utilizing misdirection, getting the ball on the wing, find the middle, give and go.

“And we kept possession. That’s what won that game, the ball possession.”

The Pirates (6-14-2) saw their season come to a close.

Ottawa's Taylor Brandt (26) pushes the ball ahead to teammate Anastacia Zegis on Friday, May 10, 2024, at James Street Recreation Area in Streator.

“We responded really well in the second half,” Pirates coach Kevin Olesen said. “The girls, unfortunately, were unable to convert on the opportunities we did have, but I was happy with the effort they took onto the field today.

“Streator’s a tough team, a physical, aggressive, fast team, and they pushed us to our limit. But all in all, I’m happy with the results of our season as a whole. We’re a really young squad, and I think we have a lot to look forward to.”

Streator senior Ophelia Orozco was in the thick of both Bulldogs’ goals, scoring the first off a nice-look Audrey Arambula assist just over 21 minutes in. Then with 16:34 remaining in the opening half, Orozco started an all-senior chain that went from her foot to Bridget McGurk’s to Zuzu Gonzalez’s, with Gonzalez finding the back of the net past Ottawa keeper Shaelyn Miller to make it 2-0 Bulldogs.

“The first goal, Alyssa just put a cross to the middle. I really wasn’t expecting it,” Orozco said. “And I always hit the crossbars, always, so I had visions of it hitting, but I ended up putting it in the back of the net, and I was so happy.

“And the second one, it was like a ping-pong. Our ball movement today went really well.”

Ophelia Orozco

As it turned out – despite Streator’s 23-12 edge in shots on goal – it would be the last goal scored on the evening.

Miller finished with 14 saves against two goals against, aided by strong defensive work in front of her by Isabella Petty, Mary Rodriguez and Sariah Polier, who notched a non-goalie save on a point-blank Streator shot in the second half.

Miller’s counterpart, Streator goalie Charli McMullen, had a mostly quiet day, thanks to her team’s ability to control play. She completed the shutout with eight saves and some standout assistance from defenders Iliana Gomez, Joey Puetz and especially Josie Goerne, along with sideline-dominating play on the left wing from Alyssa Arambula.

With the win, Streator – regardless of the outcome of Wednesday’s matchup with Mid-Illini Conference champion Morton – is guaranteed its second consecutive .500 season and sixth since 2012, when Huey took over a program that had never posted a winning campaign.

“We’re going to go up against a quality soccer program from a quality soccer area,” Huey said of the Bulldogs’ next match. “But these girls have demonstrated with teams like Washington, Lisle, that they can play with them.

“As long as we come with good mentality and aggression, I think we’ll have a good match.”

Ottawa's Chloe Carmonia (18) puts a header on the ball in fron of Streator's Bridget McGurk and Joey Puetz during the Class 2A La Salle-Peru Regional match Friday, May 10, 2024, at James Street Recreation Complex in Streator.
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