Girls lacrosse: Glenbrook South tops Benet to reach state title game
It's not a long history, but girls lacrosse in the IHSA state series has seen a distinct pattern so far.
In two state championship games, there have been only two participants: Hinsdale Central and New Trier.
Hinsdale Central won the first-ever IHSA girls lacrosse state championship in 2018 and defeated New Trier. New Trier won the state championship in 2019 and defeated ... Hinsdale Central.
After last year's lost season to COVID, 2021 will bring a new championship game participant: Glenbrook South.
Glenbrook South outpaced Benet on Thursday in the state semifinal at Glenbrook North and got a 14-11 victory. That puts the Titans, now 13-9 on the season, in Friday's state championship game on their own field at Glenbrook South. They will face Loyola, a 14-7 winner in Friday's other semifinal, at 7 p.m. The Ramblers are also another first-timer in the state championship game.
"It feels so awesome to do this," Glenbrook South senior midfielder Belle Tiesi said. "Two years ago, we got third and that was so great for our program because that was the furthest we've ever gotten and now getting even further than that feels really awesome."
Tiesi had 5 goals, and was one half of a lethal one-two punch for the Titans. Senior midfielder Meg Bireley rolled up a whopping 8 goals for Glenbrook South.
"I'm so happy, I'm so proud of this team," Bireley said. "What I like about this team is that each year, we've gotten better. My freshman year, we didn't make the Final Four, then we got third, now we're in the state championship game. I like seeing that growth.
"I think we are peaking at the right time. Ever since playoffs have started, we've really picked it up and put the pieces together. We're playing our best at the right moment."
Bireley was certainly in the moment. She scored Glenbrook South's first three goals, and had 5 goals by halftime.
"I really wanted this game," Bireley said. "And I knew that I needed to push it."
But the game was tied at the break, 7-7.
Benet got some big goals in the first half by Karly Keating. She had 3 first-half goals and wound up with 4 on the game for Benet, as did Shannon Earley.
But Glenbrook South was striking early and often in the second half and had outscored Benet 6-3 through the first 12 minutes to build a lead it would not relinquish.
"We hustled really hard and we knew that (Bireley) was going to be a threat and we had a face guard on her but it didn't really work out," Keating said. "She was really good in this game. She was on fire.
"But we are still so happy with just getting here. This season has been historic for us. We've never made it this far. We were ranked 30th in the state last year. We are super grateful to have this opportunity to be at state."
Benet finishes the season at 19-3.
Head coach Jadae McGuire saw a shift not only in his program this season, but also in girls lacrosse across the state.
"We've got some momentum and we're hoping that us getting this far will help us build our program even more," McGuire said. "As a fan of the sport in general, I love the growth here with all the teams. The level of play with the top teams in the state is great and they are starting to build great momentum. Programs are growing and girls are loving the sport all over the place."