AURORA – For the first week of April, this was high drama.
Freshman Anna Sheen delivered the game-winning goal for the Rosary girls soccer team Wednesday with only 22 seconds to play in the match, lifting the Royals to a 2-1 win against Suburban Christian Conference nemesis Wheaton Academy.
Overtime was beckoning before Sheen’s medium-range shot caromed in off the far post.
“I was in shock,” Sheen said. “I almost started crying.”
Rosary coach Kristy Kane said she was unsure the last time the Royals have defeated Wheaton Academy, a Class 2A powerhouse that appears to be in a rebuilding season.
“I think this was the most exciting end to a game I’ve had coaching, probably ever,” Kane said. “The girls said I was jumping really high and did a little weird dance or something. I don’t even know what I did.”
Kane said all the girls on her team “have that shot in them – it’s just at the right moment.”
Sheen, a St. Charles resident who primarily is a defender for the Royals, knew she didn’t have much time left to try and make something happen.
“I heard everyone yelling ‘A minute left,’ so I just took a chance,” Sheen said.
The match was scoreless for about 55 minutes before both teams scored in a span of less than 30 seconds.
The Royals (2-1-1, 1-0 SCC) struck first when sophomore standout Quincy Kellett found just enough space between defenders to deposit a left-footed shot just to the right of sprawling Wheaton Academy goalkeeper Julia McKee.
“I knew there were runs coming down the side but I saw that they were marked, so I tried to turn it and use my left foot,” Kellett said. “I’ve been trying to practice my left foot in practice but it hasn’t been working very well. It was nice to finally get a good strike with it.”
Before the Royals had much of a chance to enjoy their lead, Wheaton Academy’s Jamie Netzley beat Rosary goalkeeper Lauren Frasca with a lofting shot from a sharp angle. The goal, off a Kate Lindsay assist, came with 24:49 to play in the second half.
“That’s a great goalkeeper,” Wheaton Academy coach Dave Underwood said of Frasca, a DePaul recruit. “I think she’s probably the best goalkeeper in the conference if not for maybe [St. Francis’ Jenna DiTusa]. We knew we had to shoot a lot, just law of averages, and we didn’t get as many shots as we wanted, but I was glad that [Netzley] pulled the trigger on that.”
The Warriors (1-2-1, 1-1 SCC) are fielding a young team in the aftermath of the graduations of standouts Crystal Thomas and Ally Witt, who combined for 61 goals last season.
Rosary, though, has its own challenges to worry about, including the absence of Michigan State recruit Kaitlin Johnson. Johnson, a standout senior midfielder, is likely sidelined for at least another week after recently suffering a concussion, Kane said.
Kane credited senior midfielders Taylor Gibson and Haley Kilbride for stabilizing the Royals in Johnson’s absence.
On Wednesday, though, it was a freshman who set off the raucous early-season celebration.
“I feel like if anyone deserves to have that goal at that point of the game based on how they’ve done the first part of the season, it’s Anna,” Kane said. “Because she’s a freshman and we’ve asked a lot of her, and she’s really stepped up.”