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Geneva, St. Charles East girls soccer spare the suspense

STREAMWOOD – After crushing Larkin in Tuesday’s first IHSA Class 3A Bartlett Regional semifinal, the St. Charles East girls soccer team stuck around for only a little more than 10 minutes of Geneva’s semifinal against Bartlett.

By then, the Vikings were already leading by three goals en route to a 5-0 victory against Bartlett that seemed like a barn-burner in comparison to the Saints’ 12-0 win against the Royals.

It wasn’t much of a day for suspense at Millennium Field but more could be in store Saturday when the Vikings and Saints play for the third time this season, this time in the regional championship match.

“We always come out not as well as we want to, and then we get it back in the second half, but today we really got to it and played to our full potential right away,” Geneva sophomore forward Mary Landry said.

Surging Geneva (13-8-1) has outscored opponents, 36-0, during its last seven matches.

The Vikings’ schedule has softened somewhat during that span but there’s also little question Geneva is playing its best soccer of the season.

“We’re learning just to pass the ball, to get it to our feet, work together, calm it down and just play our game,” Landry said.

Landry’s emergence as a secondary scoring threat to complement Iowa-bound senior Amanda Lulek also has been helpful. Lulek and Landry both had two goals against the Hawks, with senior Molly Axen also scoring for the Vikings.

“She’s a little more confident,” Geneva coach Megan Owens said of Landry’s late-season increase in productivity. “Being a first-year varsity player, I think there’s always a transition period, but she’s been very solid for us all season long, very aggressive with her head, and she’s just getting into her comfort zone, and it shows.

“She’s really helped add to our offense over the past two weeks. All gears are firing for our offense.”

Lulek scored the first goal less than two minutes in, heading in the rebound of her own point-blank shot on goal.

Bartlett (8-14) was in the unenviable position of starting a new goalkeeper for the first time as the Hawks’ regular starter was unavailable. Freshman Tessa Jetczak gained steam as the match went on, making several sharp saves in the second half, but by then the Hawks were buried.

“We came out a little slower than we should have,” Bartlett coach Heather Thomas said. “Having a new keeper on the field, that’s such a key position to have being a new face. I think it took her a couple minutes to get adjusted and what-not, and us a while to get adjusted to her. They came out and caught us a little off-guard, I think.”

Vikings goalkeeper Sam Hauser made six saves to notch the shutout.

“We’re playing really well,” Owens said. “We’ve had a nice run and we’re just looking to continue that on.”

East (14-5-2) had no trouble with hapless Larkin in a match that Saints coach Paul Jennison simply described as “a job to get done today.” Carly Pottle (four goals) and Darcy Cunningham (three goals) powered the Saints.

Saturday’s regional final against the rival Vikings should come with considerably more drama, despite East’s two wins against Geneva in early April.

“The past two games are irrelevant,” Jennison said. “It’s the postseason. Geneva’s a quality team. They’ve been putting the ball in the back of the net. I think they’ve found a new lease on life.”

On Tuesday, both East and Geneva sucked the life out of their opponents in a hurry.

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