Girls soccer: Lockport gets boost from two Brinlee McNabb ‘attitude goals,’ tops Oswego East in regional final

Three goals off Emma Czech corner kicks add up to 3-0 win over Wolves

Lockport's Brinlee McNabb

LOCKPORT – Lockport girls soccer coach Todd Elkei has a term for any time that Brinlee McNabb scores.

“He calls them attitude goals,” McNabb said.

McNabb had a pair of those “attitude goals” and fellow senior defender Meghan Mack added one. All of the scores came off corner kicks by Emma Czech. It all added up to a 3-0 victory for the host Porters over Oswego East in the title game of the Class 3A Lockport Regional on Friday evening at the Lockport Stadium.

It’s the second straight regional title and third (2012 was the other) in school history for the Porters (24-0). Oswego East (14-7-2) was unbeaten (7-0-1) in its previous eight games. But the Wolves couldn’t generate much at all against Lockport.

“The girls needed it,” Elkei said of the aggressive play and dominating time of possession. “I just told them to go out, play their game and have fun. Our defense was just dominant.”

The Porters weren’t just dominant on defense, their defenders accounted for their offense. Having possession nearly the whole first half, Lockport hadn’t scored for nearly 30 minutes. But there were numerous corner kick opportunities and one finally connected.

That happened when Czech, a senior defender who starts all the set pieces for the Porters, delivered one from the right side, The ball was perfect and McNabb crashed through and headed it into the back of the net. That came with exactly 10 minutes left in the first half.

“I just had to attack the ball with everything,” McNabb said of her initial goal. “I don’t have any fear going after the ball. I’ll do anything to beat the defender.”

Czech had three corner opportunities before that one and took 11 of them in the game.

“They’re my thing,” she said of the corner kicks. “We had so many but on that (first goal) one I thought, ‘Oh beautiful.’ We knew that was the one. Brinlee is so good at capitalizing on it.”

Continuing their relentless play, the Porters nearly added to the lead in the next few minutes. Czech had another corner and this one found senior midfielder Natalie Zodrow, who zonked her shot off the left post with 8:14 left in the half. Just 42 seconds later junior defender Alyssa Flood fired an attempt from 30 yards that went off the upper corner of the left post and crossbar.

In the meantime, the Wolves had a few charges but no shots until the final minute of the half. That was an attempt from senior forward Anya Gulbrandsen that was wide right. It was 1-0 at halftime.

Lockport took three more corners to open the second half. The third one was the charm as McNabb got free in a scrum in front and was able to use something besides her head to score her seventh goal of the season.

“I just threw myself at the ball,” McNabb said. “It went off my stomach and it barely went over the line but it did. I’ve scored three goals off my stomach this season.”

On yet another free kick, Czech found Mack for the final tally with 13:26 to play in the game.

“The ball came in and I had a feeling that I’d get to it,” Mack said of her sixth goal of the season. “I ran through and sort of turned and hit it with my side.

“We like to attack a lot on defense and that helps us. The energy was unreal. It was a great win and we played our hearts out.”

The Wolves had a couple of opportunities in the second half. Senior defender Morgan Dick had her free kick from 40 yards corralled by junior keeper Liz Rock, who also made a save on an attempt from freshman midfielder Kiara Taghap.

“Lockport is intense,” Oswego East coach Juan Leal said. “They are very intentional with their passing and never let up. They are impressive.

“But our girls hung in there and I’m proud of them. The positive is (as a No. 9 seed) we made it this far and there’s a lot to take from that.”

Gulbrandsen, who will continue her career at the University of Wisconsin, left her mark at Oswego East. She’s the all-time goal scorer with 89 and assists leader with 35, in school history. She played until the end too, ripping a final shot literally seconds before the final horn that ended up just too high, landing on the top of the net.

“I wouldn’t feel good about myself if I didn’t play until the last whistle,” Gulbrandsen said. “Lockport is a very disciplined and well-coached team. They are an aggressive and disciplined group of girls.

“It wasn’t a good day for us but I’m proud of this year and how much we grew. I was happy to be a leader on the team here and I’ve been playing with some of these girls for 12 years. High school soccer is a great thing.”

It certainly has been for the Porters, who have been ranked No. 1 in the state for much of the season.

“We started connecting last year,” McNabb said of what has made this team and season so special. “This season we just built that chemistry and have been bringing it every day.”

Randy Whalen

Randy Whalen - Shaw Local News Network Correspondent

Randy Whalen is a contributing reporter to Shaw Local, covering high school sports in Will County