WEST CHICAGO – Timely goals and saves earned St. Charles North a victory over St. Charles East in the Class 3A West Chicago Sectional championship May 27.
St. Charles North won 3-2 on penalty kicks.
The North Stars scored goals in the waning seconds of both regulation and the first extra period.
With the score knotted 2-2 after the second overtime session, St. Charles North goalkeeper Kara Claussner’s stops gave the North Stars a 3-1 advantage in the penalty kicks to finally secure the win and the sectional plaque.
St. Charles North (17-3-2) advanced to Tuesday’s Barrington Supersectional and will battle the host school for a berth in the state tournament.
St. Charles East (24-4) took a 1-0 lead in the eighth minute of the match on Grace Williams’ 29th goal of the season.
With 7.6 seconds left in regulation, North Stars striker Laney Stark scored to force the match into the first extra period. Saints goalkeeper Sidney Lazenby had just stopped a shot by the North Stars’ Lauren Balster and was trying to clear the ball when Stark corralled it.
“It came out and bounced a little bit,” Stark said. “I took a touch and shot it in with my left foot.”
St. Charles East regained the lead at the 2:59 mark of the first overtime session. Kara Machala’s corner kick from the right side landed in a mob of players in front of the net. Teammate Tatum Smith got control of the ball and tapped it in.
The North Stars tied the match again with 47 seconds left in the first extra session. Rian Spaulding got control of Balster’s free kick from 40 yards out and put it into the net.
“It was just bouncing around the box, kind of like a pinball,” Spaulding said. “I just knew I had to get in the back of the net.”
“Our girls never, ever, ever gave up. I mean you’re down one with 6.9 seconds to go and they made it happen,” St. Charles North coach Brian Harks said. “St. Charles East had a nice goal [in the first overtime] and once again there’s an opportunity to give up. They showed a lot of courage and kept grinding.”
In the penalty kick session, St. Charles North was successful on all three attempts. St. Charles East scored on its first try. The Saints’ second kick was stopped by Claussner and the third shot bounced off the cross bar. Claussner blocked St. Charles East’s fourth kick to clinch the PK round for the North Stars.
“It was a game of marginal errors, where errors were punished for goals and 2-2 was probably fair. I thought we played pretty well,” St. Charles East coach Vince DiNuzzo said. “We gave them a game. The girls worked hard. It was an effort to be proud of.”