Sports

Class 3A girls soccer: Madi Watt’s two goals lead Lincoln-Way Central past Andrew

The Knight freshman scored the game-winner with 4:01 left in the Class 3A Sandburg Sectional semifinal

ORLAND PARK — Through 22 games this season, the Lincoln-Way Central girls soccer team had allowed three goals in fashioning a 21-1 record and berth in the semifinals of the Class 3A Sandburg Sectional.

On Tuesday night, the Knights took on Andrew, a team they defeated, 1-0, on a goal in the final minute the last time the two clubs met.

Lincoln-Way Central freshman Madi Watt scored both goals for the Knights in a 2-1 win Tuesday that advanced them to the sectional championship at 6 p.m. Friday against Sandburg. Sandburg defeated Lincoln-Way East 3-2 in the other semifinal.

Playing with the wind at their backs in the first half, the Knights had ample scoring opportunities, but did not cash in until Watt took a leading pass from Reagan Schultz and fired a shot past Andrew goalkeeper Addy Kreyditch with 12:30 left.

Andrew tied the game with 31:57 to play on a breakaway by Cosabella Milazzo. The Thunderbolts had the wind at their back in the second half and got eight shots on goal.

Having a goal added to their season allottment did not sit well with the Knights.

“Coming in, we knew we would struggle scoring,” Lincoln-Way Central senior defender Grace Grundhofer said. “After they scored, it stung a little bit, but it didn’t really affect us. We were a little angry that we let one in, but we didn’t start to think negatively.”

Lincoln-Way Central (22-1) finally negotiated the wind and moved the ball into scoring territory late in the second half. The Knights had a throw-in from the left sideline, and Grundhofer performed her signature flip throw. Andrew was prepared and twice in a row the Thunderbolt defense knocked the ball back out of bounds. On the third attempt, Watt got her head higher than anyone else and knocked the ball into the net.

“I just found the right position,” Watt said. “Grace being able to throw the ball that far is a huge weapon for us. I was just trying to get my head or any other part of my body on it.”

“I was starting to get a little dizzy with flipping three times in a row,” Grundhofer said. “I’ve been doing that since I was 7 years old. It’s great that we have a lot of tall girls.

“This was a total team effort tonight, and we get to keep playing.”

Central coach Sean Fahey wasn’t surprised to see the freshman Watt come through.

“Madi has stepped up for us all year,” he said. “When we went through our tricky stretch of the season, she was a main catalyst for our offense. For her to finish off the game by putting herself in the right position to make the play it pretty special.

“We couldn’t get into our full rhythm in the first half. We had three shots hit the post and their girl made a few saves. Those opportunities don’t show up much against a team like Andrew. The wind was a factor, and in a high-intensity match like this, it’s easy to fall out of rhythm. But, we settled down, and Alexa Hadley made some big saves when we needed them.”