North Stars beat St. Charles East 3-1 for fourth straight title, advance to rematch with Barrington
SCHAUMBURG – Sami Rydberg flashed a sly smile.
The St. Charles North senior appeared to weigh whether or not to spill the details on a corner kick set piece – one that vaulted the North Stars ahead of St. Charles East by a goal with 22 minutes remaining in the second half of Saturday's Class 3A Schaumburg Sectional final.
"We just have a few plays," Rydberg said, "and we've been saving that one."
It sent the North Stars past the Saints 3-1, St. Charles North's fourth straight sectional title. St. Charles East, meanwhile, fell just short of its first sectional crown since 2014.
Kicked into play by CeCe Wahlberg to the center of play, Rydberg shadowed Claudia Najera a few steps behind her stride-for-stride. Najera, appearing to play the ball, lifted up her right leg as if to strike it.
Instead, the ball rolled right through, found Rydberg, and she drilled it past Saints' goalie Grace Griffin for the go-ahead goal and 2-1 lead.
"That felt amazing," Rydberg said. "The way [Najera] played it, I was a little nervous...the way this field bounces, the spin on it just took it into the left corner [of the net]."
The North Stars (19-1-2) advance to Tuesday's Barrington Supersectional at 6 p.m. against Barrington. St. Charles North has lost in the supersectionals the last three seasons – last year, 2-0 to now two-time defending state champion Barrington.
"I think it's a completely different game this year," Rydberg said of the matchup. "We have two completely different teams. We're strong, and we don't look at last year's game and think anything of it. It's more just [It's] the next game that we've got to win."
The first half on Saturday ended in a 0-0 stalemate, but Sarah Andrey connected on a breakaway just over eight minutes into the second half for a 1-0 North Stars' lead.
Saints' senior defender Alondra Carranza wouldn't be denied, though.
Carranza powered through Sara Maleski's initial save to give St. Charles East new life with the tying goal two minutes later. The Saints had a pair of potential scoring chances for Kayla Villa and Elle McCaslin, but both sailed high. The North Stars' corner kick goal came shortly after.
Andrey iced the game with her second goal with just over 7:30 left in the match.
"As a team, we all want it. This is our year," Andrey said. "I just want to help my team anyway [I] can. It just so happens people are giving me balls; I have to finish my opportunities."
McCaslin, playing with a broken arm and donning an orange cast, played with a warrior-like mentality all game. The junior forward took a number of spills amid heavy contact, even leaving the game twice.
Still, she found a way to return and compete.
"We knew that it was going to be a well-fought game," McCaslin said. "We know these games are battles. [I] just had to get back up and just keep playing."
St. Charles North defeated St. Charles East twice in the regular season, both 2-1 finals.
"It was a nice season for us overall," St. Charles East coach Vince DiNuzzo said. "But, the expectation has to be getting past this point because they're not going away, right? So, we have to find that hurdle. A lot of it is mental with us, but we made too many mistakes in the back today to win the game."
St. Charles North's Samantha Rydberg advances the ball while defended by St. Charles East's Renee Unterberg during the IHSA class 3A Schaumburg sectional final on Saturday, May 25. The North Stars won 3-1.
St. Charles East's Hannah Miller and St. Charles North's Grace Barresi over run the ball during the IHSA class 3A Schaumburg sectional final on Saturday, May 25.
St. Charles East's Alondra Carranza (8) is congratulated after scoring a goal during the IHSA class 3A Schaumburg sectional final against St. Charles North on Saturday, May 25. The goal tied the game at one in the second half.
St. Charles East's Jessica Stephien and St. Charles North's Celeste Wahlberg jump for a header during the IHSA class 3A Schaumburg sectional final on Saturday, May 25. The Saints lost 3-1.
St. Charles North's Claudia Najera advances the ball while defended by St. Charles East's Jessica Stephien during the IHSA class 3A Schaumburg sectional final on Saturday, May 25. The North Stars won 3-1.
St. Charles East defender Ashley DiOrio passes the ball during the IHSA class 3A Schaumburg sectional final against St. Charles North on Saturday, May 25. The Saints lost 3-1.