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Batavia girls soccer's flips baffle Hoffman Estates

ROSELLE – The Batavia girls soccer team flipped out in a victory over Hoffman Estates in an IHSA Class 3A regional semifinal Tuesday at Lake Park.

The Bulldogs scored a pair of goals on flip throw-ins on their way to a 4-0 victory over the Hawks. A flip throw-in by junior midfielder Brittany Wahlen led to a goal by sophomore Olivia Callipari early in the second half.

“We’ve been practicing my flip throws,” Wahlen said. “I’ve been doing them since I was really little. I just threw it and Olivia Callipari was right there and she had a great shot to the corner.”

Wahlen said a background in gymnastics helped her learn the flip throw-in when she was about 10 years old.

“For me, it’s not very difficult,” Wahlen said. “When I first tried it, I fell a few times. After that, I pretty much just got it every time.”

On a flip throw, a player uses the ball like a springboard after a running start and then becomes a sort of human trebuchet to fling the ball toward the goal as both feet return to the ground.

“Brittany, when she’s warmed up – when she’s done it a couple times and limber after a few throws, she can probably get it to the mouth of the goal on this field, which is probably 68, 70 [yards] wide,” Batavia coach Mark Gianfrancesco said. “It’s definitely a weapon.”

Not to be outdone, senior forward Anna Zeyen, the other Batavia player who uses the flip throw, employed it a few minutes later to help the Bulldogs (12-4-3) score again. Her throw took one bounce before finding sophomore Alexis Bryl open at the far post, and Bryl calmly tapped the ball into the right side of the net to beat Hoffman Estates (2-14-2) freshman goalkeeper Francesca Van.

Van was under siege right from the outset of the match as the Bulldogs put seven shots on goal in the opening 10 minutes, including four in the first three minutes. Senior forward Grace Andrews gave Batavia the lead less than two minutes into the game with a shot from just inside the box that went right through Van’s wickets.

“I was kind of surprised, but a goal’s a goal,” Andrews said. “I think she was not expecting it. I just took an early shot because we wanted to jump on them right away.”

Van weathered the early barrage and the Bulldogs only put one shot on goal over the final 30 minutes of the half.

“We’ve seen that show before a couple times during the year,” Gianfrancesco said. “We definitely created some chances the first 10 minutes that we could have finished on and definitely would have put them down really early. When we didn’t get those chances, you saw the energy level for us just kind of go down a little bit.”

Gianfrancesco said the Bulldogs did a better job of keeping their composure in the second half by connecting passes and spreading the field to create scoring opportunities. Wahlen gave Batavia a 2-0 lead eight minutes into the second half when she scored on a header off freshman Megan McEachern’s corner kick.

“Usually, I stay back on corner kicks, but I decided to go up and try to get a head on it,” Wahlen said. “I went in and it pretty much came right towards me and I’m pretty good with my head, so I can direct it to the corner and it went right in the top 90 of the goal.”

Batavia will face Lake Park or Glenbard North in the regional championship game at 6 p.m. Friday at Lake Park. 

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