Girls soccer: St. Charles North tops Batavia to complete perfect DuKane season
One mission can be checked off the list -- but St. Charles North's "second season" is just about to begin.
"It's always satisfying when you have a record that you have, especially for North Stars soccer and the reputation that we have," St. Charles North senior Sophie Sutherland said following the North Stars' 3-1 victory over Batavia on Thursday that wrapped up an undefeated DuKane Conference championship.
"We were kind of rooting for ourselves to win conference," Sutherland continued. "I think we were doing the right things in every game that we had to do that, so I don't think it was a shock, but of course, it is satisfying."
As North Stars coach Brian Harks noted: "This is a fantastic conference."
"I think I said it before -- we don't need to travel very far to find some of the best competition in the state and I couldn't be prouder of the girls the way they've performed so far this season," Harks said.
The Bulldogs (10-4-3, 4-2-1) struck first Thursday on Carlin King's corner kick that arced perfectly to the top right corner over North Stars goalie Kara Claussner's hand for the 1-0 lead with 8:58 left in the first half. But the North Stars' kept peppering Batavia goalie Aubrey Hahn and eventually found the equalizer.
Bella Najera scored the tying goal just over two minutes later and the score remained 1-1 at half.
With 28:55 left in the second half, Hahn (eight saves) made an athletic save on a North Stars' chance and poked it away with her left hand, but Sutherland had the response 30 seconds later to give St. Charles North a 2-1 lead.
"[Hahn] is a great keeper, but she does like to play high," Sutherland said. "I noticed that when I got the ball, I was able to get through. She was around top of the [frame] and I figured just a little chipper was probably best to give us a lead.
Julianna Park scored an insurance goal for the North Stars (16-2, 7-0) with 12:21 left.
"First and foremost, [Hahn] was stellar," Harks said. "She made some amazing saves. You think you've got one in the bag and she steals one from you. She was awesome and I think Sutherland had a great soccer IQ moment. She turns, she checks her shoulders, she picks her head up [and] sees the keeper is off her line a little bit and the composure in which she chipped the ball in [was impressive].
"A lot of players might panic or just kick it away, I thought she was really calm in that situation," Harks continued. "She's a very humble player. She 's not one to bump her chest and say it's 'all about me'. She's a very good distributor but she stepped up big for us today."
Batavia coach Mark Gianfrancesco has seen consistent leadership from Hahn in the back throughout the season.
"It makes out defenders more confident knowing that she is back there," Gianfrancesco said. "Communication from her back there is pretty key and obviously she can make the spectacular save. I mean, two of those goals [surrendered], I have never seen -- I've been coaching girls since 1994 -- I have never seen so many upper 90 goals ... that's the only way you're beating her. That other one [from Park], she wasn't saving that. That's what it's got to be to beat her."