HOFFMAN ESTATES – Some of that familiar postseason imagery is returning for the St. Charles North girls soccer team.
The defending IHSA Class 3A state runners-up again will play deep into May and, just like last season, defender Kenzie Rose is a big reason why.
Rose reinforced her reputation as a clutch player for the North Stars, banging home a loose ball in the box in double overtime Tuesday to give North a 1-0 win against Conant in a Hoffman Estates Sectional semifinal. The North Stars advance to face Geneva in Friday’s sectional final.
With 5:45 left in the second 10-minute overtime session, Rose tracked down Alyssa Brandt’s corner kick as it settled in the box, supplying the evening’s only goal on her second crack at the ball.
“I came up and I got a touch on it, and then the girl kicked it right back to me, and I went right back into it,” Rose said. “It was that extra effort.”
Rose, who missed a couple of matches late in the regular season with a minor knee injury, emerged as one of North’s top scorers off dead-ball plays during last year’s postseason run. And the winning goal was hardly the Winona State recruit’s only contribution.
“Defensively, I think she was an absolute rock,” North coach Ruth Vostal said. “I mean, they have two great players up top, and she was communicating, facilitating everybody, figuring out where everyone needed to be marked up, and then for her to come up offensively … We talked about just one player making a difference, and I think she did.”
The North Stars controlled possession most of the way, and had some prime opportunities to end the match shy of overtime.
Late in the first half, North junior Sophie Pohl had a goal disallowed by an offsides call. Junior Ashlyn Walter was stopped from point-blank range by Cougars goalkeeper Haley Anderson early in the second half, and senior Kelly Manski’s volley attempt on a long, looping pass from Jorie Clawson caromed off the crossbar with about nine minutes to play in the second half.
Meanwhile, North sophomore goalkeeper Shelby Stitz made two relatively mundane saves in regulation.
Still, fourth-seeded Conant (12-5-5) was less than six minutes from taking the match to penalty kicks against the top-seeded North Stars (18-3-1).
“They’re not going to let you play pretty soccer,” Conant coach Jason Franco said of the North Stars. “We run into that in our conference a little bit. Barrington’s like that, Schaumburg’s like that, so it’s not like it’s the first time we’ve ever seen [a physical opponent]. It just turned into kind of a sloppy, high energy, high pace game.”
The North Stars would have preferred a win more in the mold of their two dominating performances in regionals but, this time of the postseason, harrowing finishes often come with the territory.
Rose seemed to thrive on the tension.
“She’s a captain, she’s been successful on corners – I think she just gutted it out,” Vostal said. “I think when you get into that point of the game, everyone’s tired, everyone’s a little fatigued, and you’ve just got to find someone to gut it out.”