BARTLETT -- A literally unusual offensive twist is becoming a regular part of Batavia’s act.
Kailey Hansen’s corner kick that curled directly into the net inside the near-post gave the Lady Bulldogs a 1-0 lead 25:02 before halftime Monday at Bartlett.
It would become the eventual deciding strike of the game, as Batavia (4-2-1) built a 3-0 halftime lead en route to a 5-0 nonconference win over the Hawks (1-4-1).
And as impressive as the perfect aim was, it’s becoming a Batavia tradition of sorts.
“I think that’s our second one this year that went in off a corner,” Batavia coach Mark Gianfrancesco said. “My daughter (Ryan) last year had like four of them directly in off the corner, and that’s just continued.
“Brooke (Carlson) had one last game, slightly deflected but it was driven near-post. Then Kailey driving that one: that’s where we really want to test the keeper and the person that’s near-post.”
There was only one problem with the corner send-turned-goal: Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match Hansen’s view of the result, or rather, lack of it.
“Honestly I couldn’t see it, because of the sun (in my eyes),” she said. “I was just trying to get it in the box for my teammates, and then I realized that it curved in. I always try to curve it, and it just got in (the upper near-post).”
At the time, Bartlett was still recovering from captain Gianna Imperatrice’s exit due to injury a few minutes earlier.
“Bartlett is physical and very organized,” Gianfrancesco said. “Unfortunately 22 ( Imperatrice), who I think is their best player, was out for the first half after the first 10 minutes. That hurt them.”
While she would later return, Batavia had already built a 3-0 halftime lead in her absence.
“Once I got off the field I did some stretching, so it got better over time,” Imperatrice said. “I feel like not just mine but any injury slows down the momentum of the game. And we have to build that back up and get back into it.”
Bartlett was able to endure in the near term and keep the score 1-0, until a Batavia push the final 10 minutes of the half effectively decided the outcome.
A prolonged Lady Bulldogs attack in the 32nd minute ended first with a Breanna Baumann clear of the box, then with a Natalie Warner 15-yard liner just over the net.
Then with 7:11 and then with 6:02 left on the first half clock, Batavia’s quick-strike offense lived up to the label.
The goal for the 2-0 lead was created off senior Sophia Vozza’s dribble drive to the right end line. Her cross to the front of the net went all the way to the back post, where Abi Edwards was there for the tap-in goal.
Batavia had to deal with a tempered celebration – Riley DiBiase went down on the play trying for a near-post touch of the cross.
But she was able to jog off the field on her own power, and Batavia’s offensive power was about to spike again.
Just over a minute later, Carlson raced in on the right wing past the defense and lined an 8-yard shot just inside the near-post to make the score 3-0.
“I was kind of confused, because they (the Bartlett defenders) just kind of stopped,” Carlson said. “I didn’t know what they waiting for so I was like ‘I’m going to try it (the shot).’”
Imperatrice noted that the short, late-half lapse turned a close game into a comfortable Batavia lead.
“It was kind of a domino effect,” she said. “If we get scored on or have a turnover, we just have to keep our confidence, effort and mentality up.
“That’s a big thing. We can’t lose confidence if teams score on us or we give the ball away. We have to keep going and keep pushing.”
Bartlett coach Vince Revak had a similar take.
“A lot of mistakes with technique and switching and communication,” he said. “Just a lot of mistakes. And we know better.
“The mentality shifted after the first couple goals, and to give up a tough goal on top of that is just a killer for your mentality. We have to learn how to come back from things like that.
“We had a better second half,” Revak added, “but we need all our players to be ready to compete and still think that no matter what, you have to believe you have a chance.”
Bartlett defender Macy Medendorp blocked a Hansen cross in the 36th minute to nicely deny another Batavia close-in threat. She then teamed with Breanna Baumann to deny a threat in the box two minutes later.
“It got better in the second half,” Imperatrice said. “But the first half was a little rocky.”
As happened early in the first half, Bartlett came out with a good defensive showing that again maintained through much of the second stanza.
A 50/50 ball win by Sarah Koziol set up a great Batavia chance with 22:45 left, an Edwards 18-yard left-side shot that curled just over the upper right corner of the net.
Then with 18:32 to go, Batavia’s second corner kick chance in 90 seconds upped the lead to 4-0.
This time it was Edwards with the send from the right corner that Koziol headed inside the back post for the score.
“We were hoping to get a quick one after halftime (to be within 3-1),” Revak said, “but Batavia’s a great team. It would have been a tough task already, and it just wasn’t in the cards tonight.”
By set pieces or the run of play, Batavia’s onslaught of 17 goals this season (3.4 per game) can cause defenses fits.
“We’ve definitely been switching it and connecting passes a lot,” Carlson said. “We’re all really fast, so we use our speed to our advantage. It’s really fun to play up and down the field.”
The wide-open flow of play produced the final margin with 17:02 left.
This time, a Batavia close-in threat was initially denied when Bartlett goalkeeper Megan Kron nicely blocked Warner’s 10-yard drive at the right post. But Hansen tracked down the long rebound and lasered an 18-yard drive just under the crossbar in the upper, right corner.
“I thought Kailey (Hansen) played really well,” Gianfrancesco said. “She had two goals, and she was instrumental in the middle winning a lot of 50/50 balls and distributing. She’s one (player) I would call out right away (as a standout).”
Senior goalkeepers Addi Cooper and Natalie Dean (second half) shared the shutout, and one defender among the strong group was particularly noteworthy.
“Dalia Perfect has been doing well,” Gianfrancesco said, “stepping up and winning 50/50 balls, taking balls out of the air and settling the ball well with her feet and is good distributing the ball. Across the board in the back, she’s done a nice job for us and has been pretty solid.”
Beyond the starting defenders of Batavia, Hannah Hickman and Emma Stoodley were among those off the bench to see extensive action and perform well.
Despite the loss, Bartlett has had its own standouts.
In a 1-0 win over Elgin last week, Imperatrice drew a foul in the box, and Brooke Baumann scored on the penalty kick to produce the victory.
“We have lost a great deal of talent from last year through graduations and injuries,” Revak said. “When that happens, other girls need to step up: which is what a number of our girls have done.
“A couple freshmen have been contributing nicely. Mia Lamz in the center (midfield) is already playing like she belongs on a varsity field. And Sophie Meloche on the outside, when she plays aggressively she can be very dangerous.
“I've really enjoyed seeing the cohesion of our back four, with Brooke Baumann stepping back into a center back role,” Revak added. “And our keeper Megan Kron has had a wonderful start to the season. Many games could have turned out much differently without her in net.”
Revak is hopeful that his squad has good times ahead, with even a hidden ode to Taylor Swift.
“Hopefully this is something we can learn from and shake it off after tonight,” he said. “We realize we’re still in a good position for conference, and that’s our main goal. Pretty much every nonconference team we play is loaded. These girls are usually up to the challenge, and we like to play these top tier teams because when you get to the playoffs you’re going to meet them at some point.
“Hopefully Wednesday we come back to our game. We’re back on this field against Glenbard South, and they’re having a good year so far. So, it’ll be another good opponent. Hopefully we can motivate ourselves to play the full 80 (minutes).”
Batavia’s win Monday came off a dramatic finish Saturday, a 4-3 win over Neuqua Valley decided with 15 seconds left on an Avery Solomon goal.
“That was a big confidence booster,” Carlson said, “and gave us a lot of energy also. We definitely were off a little bit (after consecutive losses to Plainfield North and Wheaton North), but that win kind of got us back up and into it.”
Now it’s two wins in a row and confidence on the rise.
“I feel pretty good,” Hansen said. “We keep getting better, and there’s going to be a lot more good to come in the season. Obviously, there’s still a lot to work on, but I think we’re pretty good, and we’re going to keep improving.”
After an early season that featured a long break and now a stretch of games with little rest, Gianfrancesco is also optimistic with what he sees.
“We just have to keep improving,” he said. “We started out with a lot of tough games, and now we’ve been in a stretch of three games in five days. So that’s been a little bit challenging, making sure we rotate some other girls in and get them some time. That was good today, and now we get a little bit of rest before we play Thursday.
“It’s just onward and upward. Keep playing and try to get better. That’s all you can do.”
GK: Addi Cooper
D: Addison Lowe
D: Delia Perfect
D: Alexa Scherr
M: Reese Recker
M: Sarah Koziol
M: Kailey Hansen
M: Avery Solomon
M: Riley DiBiase
F: Brooke Carlson
F: Laila Figueroa
GK: Megan Kron
D: Macy Medendorp
D: Breanna Baumann
D: Brooke Baumann
D: Ariss Krueger
M: Lizzie Dzielski
M: Mia Lamz
M: Jasmin Galvin
M: Gianna Imperatrice
F: Sophia Meloche
F: Viviana Alba
Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match: Kailey Hansen, sr., MF, Batavia
BAT- Kailey Hansen (corner kick directly in), 15’
BAT- Abi Edwards (Sophia Vozza assist), 33’
BAT- Brooke Carlson (unassisted), 34’
BAT- Sarah Koziol (Edwards), 62’
BAT- Hansen (unassisted), 63’