ADDISON – Batavia junior Karina Rosales made her coach look pretty shrewd.
Rosales, who was shifted from forward to midfield as part of tactical tweaks from Bulldogs girls soccer coach Mark Gianfrancesco early in the second half Thursday, pushed forward in the waning stages of regulation and uncorked the game-winning shot from about 15 yards out as Batavia eliminated Fremd, 1-0, in an IHSA Class 3A Addison Trail Regional semifinal.
"That was the best feeling ever, to be honest," Rosales said. "Especially with such little time left and everyone cheering, it was a good feeling."
The Bulldogs advance to tonight's regional championship match against top-seeded St. Charles North. Batavia will be at a rest deficit – the match versus Fremd was resumed two days after lightning halted play in the first half Tuesday night since Batavia's graduation was Wednesday – but the Bulldogs should have leftover adrenaline to lean on after Thursday's thrilling conclusion.
"I looked up and there was someone in front of me but I thought I had a pretty good shot," said Rosales, who scored with 2:53 to go. "The keeper couldn't really see because that girl was right in front of her so when she dived, it was too late."
The match re-started Thursday with 16:09 to play in the first half, and ninth-seeded Fremd (7-12-1) carried play for the balance of the first half against eighth-seeded Batavia (12-8-1).
When the Vikings continued to be the aggressors in the opening minutes of the second half, Gianfrancesco figured some changes were in order. Chief among them were shifting Rosales and Mackenzie Foster into the midfield to try and keep from being outmuscled by Fremd for winnable balls.
Gianfrancesco said it's an adjustment he's made periodically this season.
"Depending on the opponent and how physical they are, that's really where it is, because the girls I [usually play in the midfield], they're finesse … they can knock it around if the team's not cracking them and stuff but then when we see them not winning the [50-50 balls], you drop a couple of the bulldogs in there and they're more aggressive going forward," Gianfrancesco said.
Rosales made a few other deep pushes upfield as Fremd struggled to track her during the second half but she was unable to generate a prime scoring chance until drilling the game-winner past Fremd goalkeeper Kelsey Stone.
Rosales also helped her team generate a strong chance with a little less than 10 minutes to play in the second half when she drew a whistle after being taken down just outside the penalty area. Bulldogs sophomore Rachel Reinecke's low free kick bounded beyond Fremd's wall but Stone made the stop.
Sophomore Megan McEachern and senior Kim Stanczak also flirted with opening the scoring for Batavia earlier in the second half.
Fremd coach Steve Keller conceded that Batavia began to take control as the match proceeded deeper.
"I thought the way we started [Thursday] was better than the way we started [Tuesday]," Keller said. "I was encouraged by that first half. We got to the second half and we created some opportunities but we weren't able to put them in."
Batavia freshman goalkeeper Jenny Scara earned the shutout. She figures to be much busier tonight against a St. Charles North team that blasted Batavia, 4-0, when the teams met early this season in an Upstate Eight Conference River match.
North has had a chance to rest since topping Lake Park, 2-0, in a regional semifinal on Tuesday, making Rosales' ability to win the match in regulation all the more helpful for the Bulldogs.
"As I told the girls just now, we're going to need more from everyone [against North]," Gianfrancesco said. "So there's going to be a lot of subbing to try and keep people fresh."
Rosales expressed optimism that Batavia can pull the upset.
"If we come out like we played like in the second half, I think it could go either way," Rosales said.