Halftime adjustments paid off for the La Salle-Peru girls soccer team Monday as the No. 3-seeded Cavaliers scored three times in the final 10:48 to pull away for a 5-1 victory over Plano in the first round of the Interstate 8 Conference Tournament.
“The first half was a little rough,” L-P coach Christin Pappas said. “We made some changes and adjustments during halftime. Basically, I told my center midfielders to hold their positions and wait for the deflections to keep firing it, and they did that. Luckily, we got a couple more goals and solidified the W for us.
“These girls are so coachable. It makes it a pleasure to be around them. When they apply what we’re asking them, this is what happens. We get a nice win.”
The Cavs (9-6) advance to play No. 2 Sycamore in a semifinal Wednesday in Sycamore.
“I think the team played really well,” said freshman standout Litzy Lopez, who scored two goals and had an assist. “I think we all contributed. There were times where it was rough, but at the end of the day we did really well and got the win.
“I’m excited. I think it’s great we’re advancing. We work together really well. I can’t wait for the next few games. Sycamore, I think, is going to be a hard game, but I think we can put up a fight.”
L-P lost to Sycamore, 6-0, earlier this season.
“I’m really proud to advance,” Pappas said. “We’ll take on Sycamore and hope for the best.
“Sycamore is a strong team. They’re physical and they’re very talented. If we can show up with the team I know we can be, I think we can come out on top, but we’ll have to see what happens.”
Lopez got L-P on the scoreboard as she blasted a shot into the upper left-hand corner of the net from just outside the box with 9:54 left in the first half.
Brooke Schiffbauer tallied a goal with 1:34 left in the first half to give the Cavs a 2-0 lead at halftime.
The Reapers got on the board 3:17 into the second half when Norah Andrade took a pass from Alexa Diaz and put it past L-P keeper Lea Selquist.
“At halftime we were telling our forwards what runs they need to focus on making when we get the ball,” Plano coach Ben Sperry said. “Alexa was fed the ball from Mea [Roberts]. We were able to get the ball down the sideline then Norah was in the right spot. We wanted her to make that run down the center channel. Alexa released the ball right when she needed to. It was really good to be able to have Norah put it away.”
Selquist and the Cavs did not allow another goal, and Selquist finished with five saves.
“We didn’t expect that goal at all,” Pappas said. “We were trying to pressure up a little more. Having a keeper like Lea Selquist is the key to keeping goals from being scored. She is an incredible athlete, as we saw tonight. She’ll lay her whole body on the line.”
The Cavs poured on three more insurance goals starting with a 30-yarder from Lopez with 10:48 left.
“She knows how to hit the ball to where it can do anything she wants it to,” Pappas said. “She can give it backspin. She can give it no spin. She can hit the ball so it drops at the very end. She’s one of the only player who has ever asked me what kind of ball do you want coach when I’ve asked her to hit a ball. It’s just a pleasure to be her coach.
“She is the most unselfish player. I have to almost make her shoot the ball. Kids like that who want her team to be successful, not just herself, are a coach’s dream. She’s definitely come in here and been a huge contributor. She’s a captain as a freshman. She’s earned it.”
Bella Lambert scored with 7:08 left, and Danica Scoma added a goal with 1:54 remaining.
“A lot of pressure,” Lopez said about the key to the late offensive surge. “We were talking and passing the ball around to each other.”
Plano falls to 1-9.
“I think we played great,” Sperry said. “I think the score doesn’t really reflect the play of the game. La Salle-Peru had some great shots that were hard for us to save. This was some of our best soccer this season. We worked really hard. We had some great offensive runs. We put some great plays together. I’m really pleased with our performance.”