PALATINE — Hersey senior forward Meg Mrowicki wore a T-shirt to school on Wednesday.
It was that warm outside.
Hours later, for Hersey’s Mid-Suburban League game against host Palatine at Chic Anderson Stadium on Wednesday night, the spectators were buried under winter coats, knit hats, scarves and blankets.
It was that arctic and gusty.
But the reversed conditions didn’t cool down Mrowicki. The Notre Dame-bound force amassed four goals, including three in the final 15 minutes, in the Huskies’ 5-2 victory.
Palatine, which led 2-1 at halftime, had entered the clash on a four-game winning streak. The Pirates (5-2-0, 2-1-0) hadn’t lost since their second game of the season, a 3-1 defeat to host Deerfield, then ranked 11th in the state in the Chicagoland Soccer First 50 poll.
Deerfield is currently ranked eighth in Chicagoland Soccer Top 25 rankings.
Hersey (3-2-1, 2-0-1) was ranked 39th in the First 50 sits at no. 24 in the Top 25 now.
“Hats off to Palatine,” Hersey coach Michael Rusniak said. “That’s a tough side. We needed to play our game in the second half more than we had in the first half. This was a typical MSL game. You have to earn wins in this conference, because it’s such a strong one.
“Three points … never come easy.”
Mrowicki’s final trio of goals came fast and furious. An integral player on Hersey basketball’s Class 4A fourth place finisher in the winter, she resembled an ambitious shooting guard retreating to three-point territory in the 65th minute.
Well inside the box, she settled the ball, turned her back to Palatine junior keeper Kate Latek (seven saves) and dribbled away from the goal to find more space.
She then pivoted adroitly before booting a near post goal from about 20 yards to knot the game 2-2.
Mrowicki put the visitors up 3-2 six minutes later after a free kick assist from freshman forward Gracie Lisota, who delivered a smooth lead pass to the charging senior.
Mrowicki’s final tally, a 35-yard gem, found twine with about three minutes remaining.
“We had to be better in the second half, and we were against a real physical team,” said Mrowicki, who blasted home a rebound goal off junior forward Abi Beck’s shot in the 15th minute to tie the game 1-1.
“We’ve been a second half team this season,” added Mrowicki, a Chicagoland Soccer All-State Watch List pick a season ago.
Deciding to name Mrowicki the Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match was as easy as notching an empty-netter.
Lisota, a splendid rookie, gave Hersey a 4-2 lead. The left-footer gathered a pass from Beck and hammered home a 25-yard shot for a 4-2 advantage in the 73rd minute.
“Those two are strong, smart players,” Rusniak said of Lisota and Beck. “And they’re team-first players. Lisota has been coming into her own lately, and Abi’s crosses are so consistent. All of her crosses tonight were identical.”
And dangerous — to Palatine’s eyes.
Palatine went up 1-0 in the 12th minute when sophomore forward Maya Virgen, from a spot just outside the box, struck a shot that hit the far post before sneaking past Huskies senior keeper Alli Paulsen (five saves).
Pirates sophomore midfielder Ava Milan provided the assist on Virgen’s third goal of the season.
Palatine senior midfielder and Drake commit Paige Millstone, another Chicagoland Soccer All-State Watch List choice, broke a 1-1 tie in the 35th minute. The shot traveled some 40 yards before glancing off Paulsen’s right forearm about a foot from the near post.
“We emphasized focus in the first half,” Pirates first-year coach Aaron Morris said. “We challenged everything. We did a good job being around the second ball.
“Second half,” he added, “we had trouble connecting and taking care of the little things, like footwork. The wheels came off, Hersey sensed blood in the water and then became sharks.”
Palatine freshman forward Jolee Waddington was a red-clad gazelle all night. Paulsen received a yellow card after challenging Waddington on a breakaway, prompting a brief appearance in goal by Huskies senior back Olivia Kim, who made a save mere seconds after she had thrown on an orange pinny over her no. 13 jersey.
Waddington’s flip throw-ins thrilled the Palatine fans. A gymnast in the winter, her first acrobatic toss almost led to a goal in the 35th minute.
“We were super energetic in the first half, and we played with confidence,” said Waddington, who was on the ends, receiving and dishing, of several promising connections with Millstone. “In the second half, it came down to work ethic.
“I learned a lot during our loss to Deerfield last month,” she added. “I had to fix things in my game. I think all of us will be able to take something from this loss tonight and (improve).”
Hersey imposed its will in the early minutes of the second half by coming out with a heightened sense of urgency. Beck put a shot on-goal in the 41st minute ahead of a shot by Lisota a minute later. A Mrowicki offering flew high two minutes before another Lisota try wound up in Latek’s arms.
Hersey was in a hurry to either score or send a message to the hosts.
It took care of the former — and then some — in the final 15 minutes of the game.
“We all felt we should’ve had a better result than being down 2-1 at the half,” Lisota said.
“We looked at this as a must-win game,” Mrowicki said. “Palatine is in our sectional.”
Hersey visits Lake Zurich Thursday at 4:45 p.m. to open the Lake County school’s four-team event. The Huskies return to play twice Saturday: 9 a.m. vs. Jefferson (Rockford); and noon vs. no. 21 Glenbrook North.
Lake Zurich junior forward Lauren Bailey had a hat-trick and two assists in the Bears’ 5- 0 defeat of Jacobs on Tuesday.
Palatine visits Saint Viator on Monday at 6:15 p.m.
Lisota, one of three freshmen (with goalkeeper Sam Fetzer and midfielder Kaylee Farrell) on Hersey’s varsity, on her goal for this spring: “I’m just trying to be the best I can be for my team.” … Palatine beat Streamwood 3-0 Monday in its first game after spring break to up its winning streak to four games. “I scheduled that to ‘rip the Band-Aid off,’” coach Morris said. “It’s always good to play right away coming out of the break, because you worry about rust.” … The first corner kick in Wednesday night’s Hersey-Palatine match didn’t occur until the 48th minute. Palatine took it. The teams ended up with two apiece.
GK Alli Paulsen
D Asha Brontje
D Anni Caliendo
D Natalie Suto
D Finley Wilcox
MF Faith Sena
MF Ava Cismoski
MF Kiki Craft
F Gracie Lisota
F Meg Mrowicki
F Abi Beck
GK Kate Latek
D Madison Adcock
D Angelina Lopez
D Katilyn Kania
D Gretchen Kielser
MF Paige Millstone
MF Ava Milan
MF Sofia Klein
F Maya Virgen
F Jolee Waddington
F Mia Ramirez
Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match: Meg Mrowicki, sr., F, Hersey
Palatine — Virgen (Milan), 12’
Hersey — Mrowicki (Beck), 15’
Palatine — Millstone (UA), 35’
Hersey — Mrowicki (UA), 65’
Hersey — Mrowicki (Lisota), 71’
Hersey — Lisota (Beck), 73’
Hersey — Mrowicki (UA), 77’