Metea Valley tops Neuqua Valley, will get shot at first sectional title
Metea Valley sophomore Lucy Burk tries not to ever lose sight of junior teammate Jordan Lange.
Now the duo, along with the rest of the Mustangs, have their sights set on the first sectional championship in school history after downing Neuqua Valley 2-0 during Tuesday's Class 3A Naperville Central sectional semifinal.
Metea Valley (18-2-1) will face Naperville North (19-2-3) on Friday for the sectional crown.
"You feel like you earned one (goal) in the first half and it wasn't there (so) you got to go get one or the game will change you," Mustangs coach Chris Whaley said. "That was the mentality we had and set the stage for the rest of the half really."
After senior Leanna Barrett's header off a Addison Wargo corner was barely batted away by Wildcats goalkeeper Zoe Fabian with a few minutes remaining before halftime, the Mustangs had to wonder when one of its chance would be converted.
They didn't have to wonder long once play resumed in the second half as Burk outmaneuvered a defender and perfectly set up Lange for the picturesque finish a few minutes in.
"Every time I get the ball I already have people running in for me so I just have to find the open player, and Jordan had a perfect run to the cross, to the front post," Burk said. "I saw her leg and was, 'Oh, there's Jordan,' and I just slipped it."
Burk provided the nice dish just 2:40 into the second half.
"Lucy is our team leader in assists for a reason," Whaley said. "Speed, and you know, creativity, obviously."
Lange certainly enjoys being the recipient of Burk's jaw-dropping moves.
"She always makes a little move and goes right past everyone and always knows where I am at," she said. "She makes the best crosses right to my feet or in the air. It just works out so well. We play really well together. She's an amazing player."
Neuqua Valley (7-8-3), which hadn't been blanked since April 12, couldn't pull off a second straight upset, coming up empty on offense against a stingy defense.
"Sometimes it wasn't the prettiest soccer, but it was a good battle by both teams," Wildcats coach Joe Moreau said. "But they had the better game and the outcome was probably deserving, but we fought like (heck) and I'm pretty proud of the girls."
Lange finally gave the Mustangs a cushion when she got into the box and fired a shot inside the far post with 8:23 remaining.
"I kind of was driving the end line and I didn't really see anyone," she said. "Then I saw a lot of people across so I kind of cut it back and saw the back post so I just hit it and it went in."
The Mustangs won the regular-season match 2-1 on April 25 and have won the last four games against their District 204 rival.
"It was a great game," Whaley said. "We had a lot of chances early and their goalie made a couple tremendous saves. Kudos to them. Joe's a great coach and you never look at their record and doubt that they're still going to give you the best possible game and we saw that the first time."