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Game story: Batavia’s Edwards pulls 2nd half trick on Neuqua Valley

By Paul LaTour, 04/07/24, 10:45PM CDT


Bulldogs coast to 5-2 road win

NAPERVILLE -- Abi Edwards and her Batavia teammates surmised their one-goal halftime lead might not hold up in their nonconference match Saturday morning at Neuqua Valley. 

But nobody expected what Edwards went on to do. She scored all three of Batavia’s second half goals as the Bulldogs (4-3-0) turned a 2-1 mid-point lead into 5-2 win.

“Going into halftime we knew what we had to work on,” Edwards said. “We talked about playing in the attacking space, and we definitely did that. We have a lot of good girls out here that really hustled today, and it really shows in the result.” 

It was the second hat-trick in as many games for Edwards, a senior forward. She also scored three goals in Batavia’s 4-0 win over Lake Park in their DuKane Conference opener on Thursday. 

On Saturday, Edwards started her personal scoring spree with a header in the 47th minute. It was set up by a perfect pass from Addison Solomon, who earlier scored her first varsity goal.

The Bulldogs pushed their lead to 4-1 after on a penalty kick conversion in the 50th minute. Edwards caught up to a through-ball in the Wildcats box but was hauled down on a slide tackle from freshman keeper Quinn Sigal. Starting keeper Zoe Fabian returned to defend the PK, but Edwards’ shot glanced off her outstretched hand and into the net. 

Edwards completed her scoring run with a rebound goal in the 66th minute. Kimberly Roman took the initial shot but was thwarted by Sigal. 

“Finishing your chances when you get them is pretty big,” Batavia coach Mark Gianfrancesco said. “We’re trying to play the right way, connect some passes. The girls were staying on top of communicating, trying to make sure we’re staying organized. It was the second game of the week for us, and we’re kind of building back up after being off for spring break. It’s a process.”

The Bulldogs, who won back-to-back games for the first time this season, opened the scoring in the first half with Solomon’s goal in the 10th minute. She took a feed down the middle before booting it past Fabian. 

That lead didn’t last long. Neuqua Valley struck in the next minute when Victoria Jaimes picked off a clearing pass and quickly deposited the ball behind Bulldogs keeper Reagan Sulaver, a Western Michigan recruit.

Batavia capped the scoring frenzy and regained the lead for good when Addison Lowe capitalized on a miscue by Fabian to make it 2-1 in the 12th minute. 

That set the stage for Edwards’ run that put the game away and gave the Bulldogs a 5-1 lead. The feat was accomplished while Neuqua Valley played the majority of the second half in the Batavia end. The Wildcats held a 12-3 advantage in shots over the final 40 minutes.

“We weren’t creating good chances,” said Neuqua Valley coach Arnoldo Gonzalez. “We were very slow with our decision-making. There was no switching on the ball, no through-balls, no crosses. We weren’t defending the way we are supposed to defend. There was no energy.” 

The Wildcats managed only one goal despite the constant pressure in the attacking third. The home team finally got another one past Sulaver in the 73rd minute to complete the scoring. Kate Wohlfeil scored on a low, short-side shot to beat Sulaver. Safa Jeffery picked up the assist. 

“I feel like we stepped it up a little more in the second half, but we got off to a rough start,” Jeffery said. “After that third goal, we slowed down a bit. But then we were able to get more chances on goal and played better.”

The Wildcats peppered Sulaver for most of the second half. She turned aside all but one of the shots and finished with 12 saves. 

“We came back with some good intensity after falling behind,” Jaimes said. “We have really high spirits. We were just trying to keep our heads up and tried not to blame each other for mistakes because those happen. All we can do is keep our heads up and continue to move forward.”

One of Neuqua Valley’s best chances came in the 60th minute when Jeffery sent a high shot toward the goal. Sulaver got just enough of it to deflect the ball off the crossbar and out of play. It produced one of the Wildcats’ four corner kicks in the second half. 

“I love the action,” Sulaver said of the onslaught of shots. “It’s part of the sport. 

“We took care of what we had to do. Probably not how we wanna start, but we handled what we were given. We don't really play on grass a lot, so it's a big adjustment. I think we did pretty well overall. It’s nice to win.”

Starting lineups

GK Reagan Sulaver
D Addison Lowe
D Emma Stoodley
D Hannah Hickman
D Elizabeth Rio
D Alexa Schorr
MF Reese Recker
MF Sara Koziol
F Addison Solomon
F Natalie Warner
F Abi Edwards

Neuqua Valley
GK Zoe Fabian
D Mollie McBrayer
D Lauren Milani
D Kate Wohlfeil
D Addison Guskey
MF Victoria Jaimes
MF Chloe Orlow
MF Gabrielle Smith 
MF Miabella Kraai
F Safa Jeffery
F Alexis May

Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match: Abi Edwards, sr., F, Batavia 

Scoring summary

First half
B: Solomon, 10’
NV: Jaimes (unassisted), 11’
B: Lowe, 12’

Second half
B: Edwards (Solomon) 47’
B: Edwards (PK), 50’
B: Edwards (Kimberly Roman), 66’
NV: Wohlfeil (Jeffery), 77’