Girls Soccer: St. Edward claims second straight sectional title
By Brandon Mangia For Sun-Times Media May 19, 2012 4:50PM
St. Edward players hold up their sectional championship trophy Saturday after beating Rockford Lutheran for the Class 1A Harvard Sectional title. | Dave Shields~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 1, 2012 11:54AM
St. Edward has knocked the wind out of its opponents this postseason by scoring early and often.
The Green Wave continued that trend on a hot Saturday afternoon against Rockford Lutheran in the title game of the Class 1A Harvard Sectional by scoring twice during the first 12 minutes en route to a 3-1 victory.
The triumph marks St. Edward’s second consecutive sectional title — each over Rockford Lutheran — as the Green Wave advances to Tuesday’s Hinckley-Big Rock Super-Sectional to face Lisle.
“I don’t have the words to describe how happy I am for these girls,” said St. Edward coach Tim Brieger. “Today, in this heat, they just battled.”
The Wave got on the board 5:30 into the game after Kathleen Duffy sent a pass from midfield to freshman Chelsea Gnan, who scooted it past keeper Olivia Cain, who was charging up to contest the shot.
“Duffy did a great job. I knew I had to finish,” Gnan said. “We talked about scoring early. We knew both teams were gonna come out strong, and we had to get on top first.”
St. Edward (19-7-2) increased its lead to 2-0 with 28:07 left in the half when junior Rena Ranallo headed in a corner kick from Gnan, leaving the Crusaders in a bit of disbelief.
“Those early goals put us on our heels,” said Rockford Lutheran coach Scott Lofgren. “Not too many teams jump on us that quickly. We fell into a bit of a shell and couldn’t get out of it.”
However, the Crusaders cut the deficit to 2-1 with 28:07 left in the half after Krista Carlson put it past keeper Paige Gannon off a corner kick.
St. Edward dominated possession in the second half and again scored off a corner kick when the ball seemed to find senior Kelly Tripicchio 30 feet in front of the net as she went far side for a 3-1 lead. Gnan was credited with the assist.
“It just bounced off one of the girls and landed right at my feet. I shot it and was ecstatic when it went in,” said Tripicchio, who scored a similar goal in last year’s sectional semifinal win. “I don’t know if it’s just good luck for me in the playoffs and I just happen to get a goal.”
Rockford Lutheran (18-4-2) had just two shots on goal over the final 40 minutes, and only seven all game. The Crusaders’ best second-half scoring opportunity came off a corner kick, but the shot sailed over the goal.
“Our defenders pretty much played all 80 minutes,” Brieger said. “We played our four backs and goalie for basically the whole game and they played their hearts out, shutting (Rockford Lutheran) down.”
Gannon made six saves in net for the Wave.