Girls soccer: Three first-half goals fuel St. Charles North to regional title win over Batavia

North Stars win 21st consecutive regional title

St. Charles North players celebrate after defeating Batavia to win the Class 3A Batavia Regional soccer final at Batavia High School in Batavia on Friday, May 17, 2024.

BATAVIA – It took only 41 seconds for St. Charles North to get on the board May 17.

After that, it was smooth sailing.

The second-seeded North Stars used three first-half goals to fuel them to a 3-0 victory over seventh-seeded Batavia in the Class 3A Batavia Regional final.

The win secured the 21st consecutive regional title for St. Charles North.

North Stars coach Brian Harks said that while every year feels different with a new team, the girls still continue to uphold the traditions of years past.

“These girls have done a good job representing the program and our shield,” Harks said. “They came to play today and they should be proud.”

St. Charles North's Rian Spaulding (5) smiles after assisting on a goal by Juliana Park (18) against Batavia during a Class 3A Batavia Regional final soccer match at Batavia High School in Batavia on Friday, May 17, 2024.

Juliana Park got the North Stars’ offense going early. With the team pushing the ball down the field for the first time, Rian Spaulding ran the ball down the far sideline before centering to Park, who knocked a shot into the bottom right corner of the net past a diving Reagan Sulaver to put North up 1-0 with less than a minute off the clock.

“I felt like our team had a lot of good energy to start off, which is why we scored so early,” Park said. “It gave us a lot of confidence and gave us a boost to keep going and get another one.”

Park scored her second goal of the game in the 24th minute. The senior sent a shot from 25 yards out to the right side of the net to make it 3-0.

Batavia’s Reagan Sulaver (25) dives to make a save against St. Charles North's Laney Stark (19) during a Class 3A Batavia Regional final soccer match at Batavia High School in Batavia on Friday, May 17, 2024.

Laney Stark scored two minutes before Park’s second goal. Stark maneuvered around three Batavia defenders before placing the ball in the bottom right corner for a 2-0 lead.

After scoring only one goal in the first half of a regional semifinal win over Willowbrook, Stark said the team carried over the momentum from a four-goal second half.

“We went out there knowing that it wasn’t just another game, but an important game,” Stark said. “And I think us focusing on the fact that we only have so much time left together, we need to come out right from the start and I think we did that today.”

St. Charles North will take on crosstown rival and third-seeded St. Charles East in the sectional semifinals. East defeated South Elgin 4-3 to win the South Elgin Regional title.

St. Charles North and St. Charles East faced off during Tri-Cities night. Stark scored the only goal of the match in the seventh minute for a 1-0 victory on North’s home turf. The North Stars also ended the Saints’ season last year with a 3-2 win in penalty kicks in the sectional finals.

“It’s no secret that St. Charles East is a talented team. They’ve got a great backline, a stud at goalkeeper and some players up top that can find the back of the net,” Harks said. “We’ve just got to keep focusing on ourselves, search for that next level and let those 80 minutes decide it.”

For Batavia, its season comes to an end with an 8-9-2 record. The loss also marked the end of the high school careers for eight seniors, including captains Sarah Koziol and Addison Lowe, who both played at the varsity level for all four years.

Lowe said despite facing adversity multiple times throughout the season with girls going down with injury, including defender Emma Stoodley who left the May 17 game after colliding with a North player, she was extremely proud of how the team played all year long.

“Every game was basically a new lineup and we had a bunch of players changing positions,” Lowe said. “It’s just been a battle, but I’m so happy that we all went through it together and we fought as much as we could.”

Down 3-0 heading into the half, the Bulldogs managed to keep North off the scoreboard throughout the entire second half, which was a feat that both Koziol and coach Mark Gianfrancesco said was something the team could hang its hat on and be proud of at the end of the day.

“Each half is a new half for us and we talk about winning the half, but at least we managed to tie the half,” Koziol said. “We kept fighting and never loosened up, so I think it showed that we were working hard no matter what and wanted to get that win but things don’t always go your way.”