AURORA – The final seconds of the first overtime ticked off the clock when the ball made its way to Metea Valley freshman midfielder Mckenna Wigfield.
With a nasty, cold wind blowing in her face and 40 yards of real estate between her and the goal, Wigfield didn’t seem to be a threat.
But she was.
“I knew there wasn’t much time on the clock,” Wigfield said. “I heard people yelling ‘One-time! One-time!’ So I tried my best, and it ended up working in our favor.”
Sure enough, Wigfield’s high-arching pot shot was caught in the wind and came down just under the crossbar as time expired. The rare play – a soccer buzzer-beater – gave the host Mustangs a 1-0 victory over Naperville North in a key DuPage Valley Conference match Tuesday night.
Metea Valley (13-0-3, 3-0-0), which is ranked No. 1 in the Chicagoland Soccer Top 25, extended its unbeaten streak to 30 games and kept pace with no. 19 Naperville Central (7-3-1, 3-0-0), which beat DeKalb 6-0, atop the league race.
The gut-wrenching loss means third-ranked Naperville North (9-5-1, 2-1-0) falls into third place, one game behind the leaders, with two matches left.
“It was just a fluke goal, right?” Naperville North coach Steve Goletz said. “It was a tough way to end the game, but these conditions are tough.
“Every time we come here, it’s windy, it’s cold. There’s nothing to block the wind.
“The game was ugly, not much to it, but the kids battled. They’ve had a tough last couple weeks, and they came out and gave it what they had.”
Both teams gave it their all, and both generated scoring chances.
Metea Valley forward and Chicagoland Soccer All-Stater Tyra King hit a post and a crossbar and barely missed wide on two other attempts.
Naperville North star Cameron DeCook forced Metea Valley goalkeeper Alyssa Gluting to make tough saves, including two just 40 seconds apart in the overtime.
DeCook’s first attempt came from 25 yards, and the second, a 39-yarder, was stopped by Gluting with 4:05 remaining. The latter was not unlike Wigfield’s goal, except that DeCook shot with the wind at her back.
Wigfield, though, had to shoot into the wind, which actually helped her. The shot was strong enough that it probably would have gone a couple yards over the net had it not been pushed down. It dropped in the perfect place, at least from the Mustangs’ perspective.
“We talked a lot about making sure we get our shots on goal,” Metea Valley coach Chris Whaley said. “We were telling the girls, you just keep battling and try to do what you can to make good things happen.”
That’s what Wigfield did after co-captain Riley Strcic’s corner kick with 20 seconds was blown off course and initially cleared.
“Whaley just said to make sure we play the ball over the top in the middle of the box, so I tried to do that,” Strcic said. “The wind kind of curved it a bit, but Mckenna stayed with it.
“Shots like that are one-in-a-million. It was an amazing chance for her and an amazing win for the team.”
Wigfield’s first reaction was disbelief. Then reality sank in.
“Oh, my God, it was unbelievable,” Wigfield said. “I just went through complete shock.
“At first, I wasn’t sure that it actually went into the net. Everyone came running toward me, and I was like, ‘Oh my God.’”
Though this was Wigfield’s biggest goal to date, it wasn’t her first game-winner. That came in Metea Valley’s previous match, a 1-0 victory over Glenbard West in the Wheaton North Kickoff Classic last Wednesday.
Wigfield and King, the two Mustangs who were named to the all-tournament team, combined for the goal. King’s sharp cross from the right edge of the box was headed 15 feet up in the air by a defender.
When it came down about 10 yards in front of Glenbard West’s net, Wigfield took a step forward and powered a header under the crossbar with 1:45 to go in the first half.
Such plays have been vital for the Mustangs, who are playing without leading scorer, senior co-captain and 2022 Chicagoland Soccer Player of the Year Jordan Lange, who remains sidelined with a foot injury. Wigfield starts in place of Lange at the 10 and is doing well.
“She’s always working her hardest, and she’s always trying to get first to the ball, which is a huge thing, especially in the middle,” Strcic said. “We always rely on and trust our younger players and our freshmen.
“We have some big players always coming in, and so she’s just been a great addition and someone that we can always rely on, because she’ll always work her hardest.”
That work ethic has endeared her to Whaley.
“I love the way she just battles and grinds,” Whaley said. “We have others girls that are willing to do that, but she just does it the whole game, and it’s amazing.
“Hard work pays off.”
Hard work, of course, is what is required to win high-profile DuPage Valley Conference games like this one. While the weather was bad, the play often ragged and both teams played without their leading scorers, the match was much more gritty than pretty.
While the ending might have been stunning, the close result was not a surprise.
“We’ve been in so many tight games with them over the years that, that’s just the way the games go. You never know what’s going to happen,” Whaley said. “It’s a competitive game; it’s a conference game.
“It could have gone either way tonight, and I think both teams showed good fight. In the end, that’s the way the game ends.”
The Mustangs will happily take it.
“It’s a big win against a hard team,” Wigfield said. “It was really good for us to win that. We’re still undefeated.”
They might not have happened if not for Wigfield’s wonderball.
“That was amazing,” Strcic said. “Conference games are huge for us, especially against North because they’re such a big competition for us and coming out with a win was huge.
“Seeing that goal go in was such a relief and just an amazing feeling. If we can keep going, we can potentially win conference.”
Naperville North, which hosts Naperville Central on Thursday, can still win conference but no longer controls its destiny. The Huskies will have to beat Naperville Central and Waubonsie Valley and hope Metea loses to Waubonsie and/or Naperville Central in order to get a share of the league championship.
Goletz does not doubt his team’s resiliency.
“This group continues to do great things, and we’ll get back to work. We get a chance to play Central on Thursday,” Goletz said.
“You’ve got a couple weeks left to be at your best when it matters the most and the girls will be up for it.”
GK: Olivia Ochsner
D: Abby Penn
D: Alison Sutton
D: Reagan O’Malley
D: Addison Sitzmann
M: Maggie Fitzgerald
M: Audrey Hartmann
M: Jacey Sturek
F: Annie Chang
F: Cameron DeCook
F: Rachael Noren
GK: Alyssa Gluting
D: Kayleigh Jannisch
D: Sydney Phillips
D: Kaylee Bannack
D: Alyssa Parrilli
M: Zoe Kirkman
M: Cydnie Bayless
M: Riley Strcic
M: Mckenna Wigfield
F: Tyra King
F: Lucy Burk
Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match: Mckenna Wigfield, fr., MF, Metea Valley
Metea Valley: Mckenna Wigfield :00 remaining