Lea Selquist and her teammates were all smiles after Tuesday’s Class 2A sectional game at the La Salle-Peru Sports Complex.
With good reason.
The No. 4-seeded La Salle-Peru girls soccer team jumped to an early lead and defeated No. 5 Limestone 3-1 to earn the first postseason victory since the program began in 2013.
“Honestly, it means the world to me,” Selquist said. “I’ve been the keeper for the past four years and this is the best team to play with and be around. I couldn’t ask for a better team to share this monumental occasion with.”
The Cavaliers improved to 11-8 and will finish with the first winning record in program history along with the first postseason advancement.
“I’m proud of us,” said freshman Litzy Lopez, who scored all three goals Tuesday. “We made history. It’s a big accomplishment.”
L-P advances to play No. 1 Morton (8-4-2) at 6 p.m. Friday in Morton.
“I expect a really difficult game, but I know our team is strong and we’re going to put up a fight for sure,” Selquist said.
The Cavs struck early Tuesday when the Rockets were whistled for a handball in the box, giving L-P a penalty kick.
Lopez sent the ball on the ground into the right side of the net past diving Limestone keeper Amyra Breedlove.
“It’s always nice to get on the board first, so that PK gave us momentum to build off of,” L-P coach Christin Pappas said. “Litzy Lopez has proved to be very reliable when it comes to the pressure of a PK. She bounced it in. She hit it so gently, fighting the urge to hit it as hard as she can as most try to do. She’s like a seasoned vet the way she plays so calm and contained all the time.”
Lopez blasted a shot into the upper left corner of the net with 15:02 left in the first half to give L-P a 2-0 lead and completed the hat trick with a shot from the left side 5:36 into the second half for a 3-0 lead.
“We kept putting the ball up and took shots when we needed to,” said Lopez, who will miss Friday’s sectional quarterfinal as she is having knee surgery Wednesday. “We had some really good passes.
“It wasn’t just me. The team passes me the ball. I can’t take credit for all of it.”
The three-goal lead was more than enough for Selquist and the L-P defense.
Limestone’s Kennedy Barber scored past a diving Selquist with 22:06 left for the Rockets’ lone goal.
“Our defenders are amazing players,” said Selquist, who finished with 13 saves. “They did well anticipating passes. They used their speed and outraced them to every ball.”
Pappas said the Cavs took away what the Rockets were trying to do offensively.
“As always, our girls pulled together when they needed to,” Pappas said. “I’ve gotten asked several times how I get them to work so hard. The answer is they don’t have a choice. With low numbers, they have to work hard to stay in the game and I have high expectations. I know they’re capable of greatness and we are getting there one step at a time.
“Our girls worked very well together, switching positions when they were tired. Defensively, we protected against the long ball to the right corner that Limestone kept trying to send through. We expected it the second half, therefore prevented it from happening again.”