LEMONT – It seemed no matter what Lemont defenders did to contain the Joliet Catholic offense during Friday’s Class 2A sectional final, the Angels just kept passing and scoring almost at will.
JCA (14-1-1) cruised to another lopsided result in its 10-2 win over Lemont (14-3-1).
The Angels will face Peoria Notre Dame, a 2-1 winner over Dunlap on Friday, in the Mendota Supersectional at 6 p.m. Monday for the chance to go to the state semifinals.
The Indians were well aware of the Angels’ offensive ability, as senior defender Trinity Hatton pulled the assignment of shadowing JCA star forward Morgan Furmaniak.
Still, Furmaniak scored two goals and recorded an assist in the first 10 minutes of the match on her way to her second straight hat trick.
“It’s something I’ve had to adapt to for sure, but we figured it out,” Furmaniak said of having so much attention put on her. “We figured out how to move around that and how to incorporate that into allowing other people like Alaina (Wildenradt) and Emma Gruber to come through and score more goals and create more opportunities.”
Gruber was the beneficiary of Furmaniak’s early assist.
The Lemont defense still had difficulty keeping Furmaniak’s head from reaching several pinpoint crosses.
JCA also showed it could score on the ground, with Wildenradt and Gruber connecting on multiple seamless give-and-goes.
“A lot of us play on the club team, so we all have that chemistry together,” Wildenradt said.
That chemistry paid off, as JCA’s numbers showed.
Wildenradt recorded two goals, while Gruber had four goals and two assists. Senior midfielder Breanna Ciemny scored on a curving shot off the post with less than six minutes left in the first half, which ended with a 6-0 Angels advantage. Kendall McLeod’s cross found Furmaniak diving for the first goal of the match for one of McLeod’s two assists. Furmaniak also had two assists.
The JCA defense did its job in the first half, too, allowing Lemont precious few possessions.
Lemont coach Rick Prangen praised JCA for the team’s play and ability. He said he thinks JCA will be able to “do some damage” in the state tournament next week.
“They’re very good,” he said. “[Furmaniak] is a special player for them. She’s a phenomenal player, one of the best I’ve seen in a long time.”
After falling behind, 6-0, the Indians got on the scoreboard about five minutes into the second half. Off a free kick, Lemont had several chances in front of JCA’s goal. Lemont took several shots that were stopped by JCA goalkeeper Abby Paternak before junior forward Nina Pavlica finally put the ball in the back of the net.
JCA scored again two minutes later, but Lemont earned another long free kick opportunity, and Gabby Koziel converted for her team’s second goal to make it 7-2 with 27 minutes left.
JCA scored three more goals to end the match early via an eight-goal margin for the sectional title.
Despite the lopsided wins thus far this postseason, JCA’s players said there still is room for improvement to reach the heights they’ve set for themselves.
“We’re going to take it a game at a time,” Furmaniak said. “State’s the main goal of course. We’re just going to keep working until we get there.”
Alex Ortiz is a reporter for The Herald-News in Joliet. Originally from Romeoville, Ill., he joined The Herald-News in 2017 and mostly covers Will County government, politics, education and more. He earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master's degree from Northwestern University.