Girls soccer: Catherine Carter, York turn away upset-minded Downers North in PKs, move into sectional final

York freshman’s final shot sends Dukes to 2-1 win, 4-3 in penalty kicks

York’s players hug Cate Carter (right) after she scores the game winning goal off of a penalty kick during a Class 3A Hinsdale Central Sectional semifinal soccer match against Downers Grove North at Hinsdale Central High School in Hinsdale on Tuesday, May 21, 2024.

HINSDALE – Catherine Carter didn’t know what it would be like to take a penalty shot with the season on the line until late Tuesday night in Hinsdale.

The York freshman technically could’ve afforded to miss as upset-minded Downers Grove North had matched the Dukes with three conversions up to that point during a Class 3A Hinsdale Central Sectional semifinal.

On the game’s final try, Carter didn’t miss.

And because she didn’t the top-seeded Dukes advanced with a 2-1 win over Downers Grove North, 4-3 in penalty kicks.

“If you miss, you miss and you’ve got to move on,” Carter said. “But at the end of the day you’ve got to put it in the back of the net because it’s one of the easiest shots you can make. It’s a 50/50 chance. She can go back and she can make that save. It really just depends, but I chose correctly today.”

York (18-1-1) advanced to Friday’s sectional final against Lyons, a team that hadn’t lost a conference game since 2016 before York prevailed in a shootout May 6 to win the West Suburban Silver.

“I didn’t take one in the Lyons game,” Carter said. “I’ve gotten better at it over the years. I always practice and you’ve got to have your spot. I was going to go the other way, but I saw her going that way so I decided to take that.”

Downers Grove North (11-12-2) seemingly stunned the Dukes with 24:16 remaining when senior Kaitlyn Parker broke a scoreless tie.

Just 46 seconds later, the Dukes tied the game on senior Sophia Musial’s penalty kick.

“What a game,” Musial said. “As soon as they scored, we knew we had to keep creating opportunities. We needed to keep pushing them because as soon as we get that one goal on them it’s so much easier for us to play.”

York’s Cate Carter (12) plays the ball against Downers Grove North's Audrey Anderson (7) during a Class 3A Hinsdale Central Sectional semifinal soccer match at Hinsdale Central High School in Hinsdale on Tuesday, May 21, 2024.

While they haven’t had to fight back from behind often this season, the Dukes have shown they’re capable of winning that way, too.

“Honestly, our fight is really great with our team,” Musial said. “We always have the mentality of getting the next goal and just focusing on the next one.”

There were chances of scoring the go-ahead goal from both teams in regulation as well as in overtime, including a shot off the post from Musial early in the second overtime. Ultimately, the game had to be decided by the shootout.

The Trojans had the edge in the shootout after goalkeeper Gianna Hunsche stopped York’s second attempt and freshman Campbell Thulin and senior Addison Liszka buried theirs for Downers Grove North. Hunsche was coming off a regional title game in which she saved three of six penalty kicks in a win over Fenwick in the Fenwick Regional.

Junior Elle Larsen made it three straight conversions for the Trojans, but they wouldn’t make another. That’s because York junior goalkeeper Ava Lewandowski saved the final two attempts that came her way.

“You’ve got to trust in yourself and you’ve got to trust in your skills,” Lewandowski said. “A big part of soccer is playing with confidence. If you play at not your full potential, you’re not going to reach high standards, so it’s playing with the confidence that you have the skill to do so and it’s knowing and trusting your teammates which is such a big thing.”

Downers Grove North's Kaitlyn Parker (23) smiles after scoring a goal against York during a Class 3A Hinsdale Central Sectional semifinal soccer match at Hinsdale Central High School in Hinsdale on Tuesday, May 21, 2024.

York had beaten Downers Grove North 4-0 on April 2.

“As a first-year head coach and still a young guy, there’s going to be some learning curves no matter what you do,” Trojans coach Marty Manske said. “Anything you do the first time is always going to be the hardest, but I’ve been around soccer for so long and I’ve been watching high school soccer for probably 15, 16 years in a row now at this point and the thing is getting the girls to kind of buy in, getting them motivated and trusting the process. Our schedule this year, we played eight of the 32 teams left in the regional. I can’t be more proud of my first season and the seniors, juniors, sophomores and freshmen – the whole entire team.”

Chris Walker

Chris Walker is a contributor to Shaw Local