WAUKEGAN – Richmond-Burton once again found itself in a familiar position on Friday night.
The Rockets posed in front of their net like they had before with a regional-title plaque after taking down Marian Central 7-0 to win the Class 1A Cristo Rey St. Martin Regional. It is their third straight title and sixth in the last seven postseasons where a regional took place.
While R-B might have the winning and posing for photos down to a T, the moment of winning a regional never loses meaning.
“It never gets old,” said senior Margaret Slove, who won her third regional title. “We just keep on pushing, keep on winning. We’re just proud of everything that we’ve gained.”
Slove’s early push to start the match helped the Rockets (16-4) quickly take control. Slove realized that she was a step ahead of Marian’s backline and started to take advantage of it when she created a fast break and scored to make it 1-0 with 34:37 left in the first half.
The Rockets kept pressuring and so did Slove. She later made a nice cut with the ball and shot it just outside the corner of the box to sneak in a goal after the ball bounced off the post to make it 2-0 with 18:47 left in the first half. Slove once again made a nice cut with the ball four minutes later and secured the first-half hat trick with 14:21 left in the first half.
“We just know never to back down,” Slove said. “We know we need to come out strong, we can’t underestimate any team when we go into any championship really. Our physicality makes us different from other teams.”
GOAL: Another nice move by Margaret Slove and she has a first-half hat trick. 3-0 Rockets with 14:21 left in the first half. pic.twitter.com/sVP5WbeJYh— Michal Dwojak (@mdwojak94) May 13, 2023
Rachel Mendlik added a goal in the first half to give the Rockets a 4-0 lead heading into the half and Bri Maldonado scored twice and Layne Frericks added a goal in the second half to secure the regional title.
Rockets coach Casey DeCaluwe was impressed with how well his team created chances by going wide, going to the end line and creating a strong presence in the box.
DeCaluwe also appreciated that the Rockets weren’t too confident heading into Friday because they beat the Hurricanes 7-0 in the regular season. R-B learned last week that it can’t rely on past results when it beat Johnsburg in penalty kicks to win the Kishwaukee River Conference Tournament title after beating the Skyhawks by a large margin during the season.
“We’ve had that before and we learned from it,” DeCaluwe said. “We approached this game the right way. It was good.”
Marian (6-7-1) couldn’t keep up with the Rockets’ fast pace and didn’t create a shot on goal until deep in the second half. Hurricanes coach Megan Graf was proud of the way her team battled, especially since many of them battled colds and had played a packed schedule to end the season.
“It’s not how we wanted the season to end, but at the end of the day, I’m proud of how hard they came out,” Graf said. “Tactically, mentally, physically, good season overall.”
The Rockets will host Woodlands (12-5) on Tuesday in the Class 1A Richmond-Burton Sectional semifinals as they try to win their third straight sectional title and return to the state finals after losing in the title match last year.
“It never gets old. We just keep on pushing, keep on winning. We’re just proud of everything that we’ve gained.”— Margaret Slove, Richmond-Burton senior
While R-B might’ve gotten its winning poses down, the Rockets know they have to battle and come out strong in order to reach their ultimate pose.
“At this point, everyone is a regional champ,” DeCaluwe said. “There’s no easy competition. You have to approach each game like it can be your last and I know this group doesn’t want it to be their last until we’re holding a state-championship trophy.”