ST. CHARLES – Megan Sreniawski may have been in a scoring drought late in the regular season – but she was an offensive machine during Tuesday’s Class 3A sectional semifinal.
The St. Charles East senior had a beautiful assist on the game’s first goal and then proceeded to earn her first-ever hat trick as Sreniawski led the Saints to a 4-0 victory over Glenbard West on Tuesday afternoon at Norris Stadium.
St. Charles East (21-0-1) will play St. Charles North, a 2-1 winner over Wheaton Warrenville South, in Friday’s sectional final.
“It feels so great because towards the end of the season I was in a goal scoring drought and getting really frustrated,” she said. “I feel relieved to get three goals today. We have so much talent that any given player could score a hat trick on any given day.”
Tuesday belonged to Sreniawski.
She got it started in the 27th minute after dribbling deep into the Hilltoppers’ penalty area before stopping and waiting for her teammates to make something happen. A darting Hannah Miller jumped on the scene and Sreniawski found her, sending a soft touch into her path where Miller slammed a shot home inside the far post.
“It’s something we’ve been working on in practice and trying to put emphasis on if the play is not there,” Sreniawski said. “We try to hold the ball up and wait for numbers to get up in the box. In that moment I didn’t really see anyone open making runs in so I tried to hold the ball up and wait to see that open pass. I saw Hannah (Miller) running up and I passed it right there and it was a goal.”
Sreniawski put the Saints up 2-0 exactly nine minutes into play in the second half, dribbling forward and firing inside the far post as she created the opportunity. She’d do something similar midway through the half from up top, barely getting her shot beyond the reach of Glenbard West goalkeeper Sam Bleker who had already made a handful of great saves. Sreniawski completed her hat trick with 11:04 left.
Glenbard West (11-6) could only muster one shot on frame and that didn’t come until the game’s final few minutes.
“I think we are really good at getting the ball back and being good defensively,” Saints junior midfielder Yazmin Martinez said. “Like my coach has said, we’re good at running the ball and starting an attack. Just even from running the ball we can get something out of it.”
The Hilltoppers are simply the latest team to be victimized by stout Saints defense.
“I think the chemistry in the back line is something that is unstoppable, no matter when the subs come in,” Saints junior defender Anna Champine said. “When they (Sydney Smith, Ashley Brummel) come in the intensity just stays the same. I think with defense we always have the urge and the drive to win the ball back.”
The Hilltoppers battled but were overwhelmed by the Saints ferocity.
“They play so hard and they’re quick so they take away your space and take away your time,” Glenbard West coach Adam Szyszko said. “They make it hard to attack and they’re just relentless. They’re a terrific squad and they come at you for 80 minutes.”
It still was huge season for the Hilltoppers as they were regional champions for the first time in 20 years.
“I’m so proud of our team,” Szyszko said. “We battled through a lot of adversity to just get here. The last week of the season we got shut down for COVID-19 protocol and that’s the last thing you want to do going into the playoffs so to get here is an accomplishment and we hope to build and move on from that.”