Harkleroad, Geneva shoot
WWS out of state tourney
Host Vikings post 4-3 edge in PKs to take Class 3A regional title
By Steve Nemeth
GENEVA -- Today’s youth have no knowledge of the old ABC Wide World of Sports program and its iconic “The thrill of victory. And the agony of defeat” voice-over.
Too bad, because no other phrase so perfectly captured the outcome of Friday’s Class 3A Geneva Regional championship match.
The host Vikings’ celebration of a 4-3 shootout advantage after 100 minutes of scoreless soccer was in complete contrast to heaving shoulders and vocal sobs from Wheaton Warrenville South’s Tigers.
Geneva goalie Emma Harkleroad dove to her right and captured the fifth attempt from Wheaton Warrenville South and no sooner than she rose from the ground clutching the ball her teammates engulfed her. That end of the field featured vice-lock hugs and leaps of ecstatic joy for the home team which advances to the Bartlett Sectional.
The Vikings --- now 14-6-1 --- have Tuesday’s 6:30 p.m. semifinal to be played at Streamwood’s Millenium Field against the winner of Saturday’s Addison Trail Regional between St. Charles East and Wheaton North. The latter would be a new foe this year for Geneva while the former owns a pair of 3-0 wins over the Vikings.
Beyond the middle of Burgess Field, Wheaton Warrenville South’s players were also locked tightly in the embraces of teammates attempting to console each other’s disappointment. A season which began in a most discouraging fashion ended at 14-7-3, but within range of some historic success.
Through 80 minutes of regulation play, plus two 10-minute overtime sessions, the 0-0 deadlock remained and the tension of end-to-end play and counter-attacks was replaced by the nerve-wracking back-and-forth of alternating penalty-kicks.
In a surprise move, Wheaton Warrenville South freshman defender Maria Dohse switched to a keeper’s jersey and stepped into the position to defend the first attempt by Geneva. That shooting order was determined when quad-captain Allie Mikos confidently elected for the Vikings to start the PK session and defend second after Wheaton Warrenville South’s Sarah Burns called heads and the pre-shootout coin flip came up tails.
Briar Schwardt successfully parked her attempt to the shooter’s right side against Dohse. South’s Anna Fank went left past Viking keeper Harkleroad.
Geneva’s second try by Maddy Rapach-Lagowski curved away and caromed off the outside of the right post to elicit a roar from the Tigers faithful. However, Harkleroad negated that by blocking a cannon shot from K.J. Waghorne.
Successful conversions by the Vikings Emily Hauser and Jenna Dominguez were followed by equalizers from Wheaton Warrenville South’s Allison Harvey and Julia Hildebrand, respectively.
“I thought their keeper was leaning more one way and used that to my advantage,” explained Dominguez, a freshman midfielder-forward. “I believed we would pull out the win especially after the intensity we showed throughout the overtimes. Winning the regional on our home field makes it that much more fun.”
“My approach was to simply focus on the placement of my shot and hit hard and low,” noted Harvey in regard to her conversion for the Tigers that evened the shootout at 3-3.
Then Kyleigh Dominguez, Geneva’s scoring leader with 19 goals and 42 points, calmly sent a solid blast to her right.
“I looked at the keeper’s eyes and picked the side I wanted to hit and nailed it,” said Kyleigh Dominguez, the senior forward opted to forego the spring club soccer training to play alongside her younger sister. The elder Dominguez is a Division I signee by Cincinnati following a stellar club career.
“This is fun and exciting,” Kyleigh admitted in regard to IHSA postseason competition. “We’ve put in a lot of hard work on and off the field, so I believe we deserved it and also earned it.”
Soccer purists generally dislike having a shootout decide the outcome of an evenly-played contest and maintain the pressure is always greatest on the shooter. Perhaps that played a role as Wheaton Warrenville South’s Burns may not have gotten her best strike on the ball and Harkleroad smothered the attempt.
“At the very last second I saw she turned her hips, and I knew I timed the dive to my right correctly. The feeling is just exhilarating,” Harkleroad insisted. “To make a play that helps win a game is every keeper’s dream.”
It’s also the reason the junior who hopes to become a physician’s assistant earned Chicagoland Soccer’s MVP of the Match accolade.
“This was such a very well-fought battle. Even though it sounds cliché, it’s really unfortunate that one team has to lose,” Geneva coach Megan Owens said with emphasis. “We have so much respect for Wheaton Warrenville South and how hard they played. Because of that, I’m also that much prouder of the win. Even after 80, 90 and 100 minutes, we found a way to raise our intensity. It’s an impressive effort and a team achievement.”
The match itself was everything that could be expected from both sides. In the season’s final regular season Chicagoland Soccer Top 25, Wheaton Warrenville South was ranked 15th with the Vikings in the honorable mention list. The seeding, which was done prior to the season's end, had Geneva at no. 3 and the Tigers sixth among the 16 teams within the Bartlett Sectional.
Those ranks were determined after Geneva got off to an impressive 11-1-1 start, but then struggled a bit prior to its pair of regional victories. Wheaton Warrenville South was not only winless (0-2-1) in the year’s first three contests, but yielded six goals. Coming into the regional title match, the Tigers had allowed only seven goals over their next 18 outings.
“I can’t be anything but proud of our team and really pleased that at the end of regulation, we had yet another clean sheet,” Wheaton Warrenville South coach Guy Callipari noted. “Having 15 of them in regulation says so much since our school record is 20, which came in 2002 when we placed second in state.
“Our backline collectively played so well today, and throughout the field we had so many examples of senior leadership. It’s obviously a frustrating way to have the season end,” Callipari added.
The game opened with a Mikos shot from the left that was saved by Wheaton Warrenville South’s starting goalie, freshman Abbie Brennan. Then came a pair of attacks from the left by another Tiger freshman phenom in Paige Miller. One was stopped by Harkleroad and the other sailed wide right.
Geneva’s Rapach-Lagowski had a 28-yard free-kick midway through the half that Brennan stopped. The Tigers’ Fank was closing in on a breakaway opportunity when Harkleroad rushed out for a defensive stop with 8:11 left before halftime. And with 1:34 to go, Miller had a dangerous curving try miss the upper right corner.
There was 22:44 left in the second half when Tiger junior reserve Emily Calloway had a great opportunity on a loose ball that came to the middle in front of the Geneva goal, but her shot sailed high and over. It was the type of opportunity that any player could only wish to be able to rewind.
Shortly after that, a flurry of Geneva attacks culminated in a big play. Kyleigh Dominguez managed to nudge the ball to her sister Jenna, who got just enough of a touch to send the ball rolling toward an empty net. That’s when the Tigers’ Ava Fickle sprinted back to clear the ball just in front of the goal line.
“Ava made that play based on vision and knowledge. If it was simply reacting. She would’ve been too slow but because she was already racing into the position she made the kind of big play she’s made all year,” Callipari said. “That was the best example of the senior leadership we’ve been so fortunate to have.”
Wheaton Warrenville South’s Emily Demsher and Allie Anderson both had strong shots saved by Harkleroad with the latter coming with 36 seconds left. In the first extra 10 minutes, Fank had a tough angle shot glance off the field goal crossbar, and Anderson hit the right side netting. But after that, Geneva dominated the best chances and the Tiger defense was repeatedly pressured to the very end as Schwardt placed a last corner-kick to the front of the South goal that required defensive clearing.
In the shootout, Wheaton Warrenville South made an interesting choice.
“We’ve got two calculating goalies who could overthink the situation,” Callipari said in deciding to have Dohse play in place of Brenna or back-up Nell Rosenthal. “For a freshman like Maria to be willing to step says a lot about her. She’s a great athlete with good footwork, and we told her there was no pressure on her. We told her to be active, get big, and just do her best. Shootouts become more about guessing right.”
Although their own attempts were successful, the outcome was still difficult for Hildebrand, who had a stellar showing on defense as did Harvey.
“This team worked our butts off all year, and it’s just so frustrating not to have the result we wanted,” Hildebrand said. “But there’s no question we became so competitive throughout the season, and we can be proud of what everyone brought to the table.”
“I am most proud of my teammates and how far we’ve come,” Harvey echoed. “We had such a rough start, but we got together and anyone could see that in the way we’ve played down the stretch. The seniors really showed our commitment to the program and how much pride we have.”
Of course there’s no shortage of that for Geneva.
“If this wouldn’t have ended in a win, this game would have broken our hearts forever,” Mikos said afterward in almost repeating the talk she delivered in the huddle prior to the start of overtime. “To get the win, on our home field, in front of a big crowd, fans, parents, classmates and alumni, that’s exactly what we seniors wanted and worked for.”
Owens understandably had praise for her seniors as well as the rest of her roster in continually noting the team effort.
“There are several players who never stepped foot off the field,” Owens noted. “And their effort was matched by everyone that went in and out. But I also couldn’t be prouder of Maddy (Yelle). She man-marked number 20 (South’s Miller), who is phenomenal.”
“When coach said I needed to man mark her, I just tried to conserve my energy whenever possible in order to keep up with her,” Yelle said. “She’s so fast and as a lefty, she’s got a really good move so I knew she’d be a big threat. My goal was not to allow her to get too close to score. She still earned some chances, but she didn’t score and neither did their team, so it’s a win we can be proud of.”
It’s the 11th regional plaque for Geneva which aimed for a fourth-straight such title last season, but came up short against St. Charles North. The Vikings’ most recent sectional crown came in 2005, one of two times Geneva finished third in state tournament play.
Wheaton Warrenville South
GK: Abbie Brennan
D: Julia Hildebrand
D: Ava Fickle
D: Maria Dohse
D: Allison Harvey
M: Sara Burns
M: Allie Anderson
M: K.J. Waghorne
M: Rachel Deeman
F: Paige Milller
F: Anna Fank
GK: Emma Harkleroad
D: Maddie Parise
D: Leah Groven
D: Anneliese Lockner
D: Emily Hauser
M: Jenna Dominguez
M: Lauren Albrecht
M: Maddy Yelle
M: Allie Mikos
F: Kyleigh Dominguez
F: Briar Schwardt
MVP of the Match: Emma Harkleroad, GK, Geneva
Officials: Mike Umano, George Zlate, Daniel Szeliga.
Geneva 0, Wheaton Warrenville South 0 (Geneva wins PKs 4-3)
1st 2nd 1ot 2ot Sh
WWS 0 0 0 0 3
Geneva 0 0 0 0 4
Geneva vs. WWS goalie Dohse WWS vs. Geneva goalie Harkleroad
G - Schwardt Good, inside right WWS – Fank Good, inside left
G – Rapach-Lagowski No Good, wide right WWS – Waghorne No Good, blocked
G – Hauser Good, carom off inside right post WWS – Harvey Good, right side
G – J. Dominguez Good, right side WWS – Hildebrand Good, left side
G – K. Dominguez Good, right side WWS – Burns No Good, blocked
WWS 8 – 6 – 3 – 0 ---- 17
G 2 – 3 – 1 – 3 ---- 9
Shots on goal
WWS 5 – 3 – 1 – 0 ---- 9
G 2 – 2 – 1 – 0 ---- 5
WWS 2 (Brennan) – 2 (Brennan/Fickle) – 1 (Brennan) – 0 ---- 5
Gen (Harkleroad) 5 – 3 – 1 – 0 --- 9