The Geneva girls soccer team played at an elite level in Tuesday’s sectional semifinal against Batavia, scoring the match’s first four goals and generating a handful of other legitimate scoring chances.
It was quite a night for Geneva, but the Vikings know they’ll need to be at least that sharp – if not better – to take tonight’s IHSA Class 3A Hoffman Estates Sectional championship match against top-seeded St. Charles North.
The defending Class 3A state runners-up North Stars defeated the Vikings, 2-0, when the teams met in April, a key win for North en route to dethroning the Vikings as Upstate Eight Conference River champions.
“We’re going to have to play our best. Definitely our best,” Geneva junior Maggie Bodine said after scoring two goals against Batavia. “We’re really going to have to play on the ground mostly for that game because they have really good defenders that play really well in the air. We’re just going to have to play our best and hope we come out with the win.”
The Vikings have won nine matches in a row, all but one of those in relatively dominant fashion.
Still, seventh-seeded Geneva is a decided underdog tonight, a role coach Megan Owens thinks her respect-craving team has embraced while pulling upsets by seed in each of its past two matches.
“They’ve had a great season, and they’re the 1 seed,” Owens said of St. Charles North. “I think the pressure’s kind of on them. We’re just going to come out and play our game, and hopefully it should be a hard-fought, Tri-Cities battle.”
The Vikings are accustomed to those. After starting the postseason by whipping Bartlett, tonight will mark Geneva’s third straight postseason showdown against a Tri-Cities foe.
The Vikings lost twice to St. Charles East during the regular season before upending the Saints in Saturday’s regional final, and Geneva improved upon its regular season draw against Batavia to oust the Bulldogs on Tuesday.
The Vikings will look to demonstrate similar strides against the North Stars.
“I think we matched up pretty well with them the first time around in terms of physicalness,” Owens said. “It was a great, intense game. We’ve just got to work on a few little things, tweak a few things, and we’ll see what happens out there.”
North narrowly escaped an upset bid by Conant in Tuesday’s other semifinal, using a Kenzie Rose goal in double overtime to prevail, 1-0.
Tonight’s winner advances to Tuesday’s Barrington Supersectional. That would be quite the improbable destination for a Vikings team that needed the current winning streak to rise above .500.
“We knew we’d take our lumps [against a tough schedule] but we also knew it’d pay off in the postseason, and it is,” Owens said.