Bulldogs dash past Vikings to advance

Bulldogs dash past Vikings to advance

CHAMPAIGN — Melissa Singleton was one of the lucky ones.

The senior defender for the Mahomet-Seymour girls' soccer team managed to keep her footing throughout the entire 80 minutes of Tuesday's Class 2A Centennial Regional semifinal match against Danville, despite a constant drizzle that started before the first whistle.

"Fortunately, I was not (among those who fell)," Singleton said afterward with a laugh. "Which is pretty unusual, because I am fairly clumsy."

Singleton didn't slip up in M-S' postseason opener, and neither did the Bulldogs as a whole.

Senior Meredith Johnson-Monfort tallied a hat trick and added an assist while second-seeded M-S' back line shut down the seventh-seeded Vikings en route to a 6-0 victory.

With their triumph, the Bulldogs (20-2) set a single-season record for victories. They also allowed Danville (7-12-1) a lone shot on net for the entire contest.

"We just wanted to stick together as a unit, because in games like these, you never know what you're going to get," Singleton said of M-S' defensive corps. "We never played this team (in 2018), so you just have to be prepared for anything and all stick together, no matter what happens."

The Bulldogs had no problem doing that in all facets. Johnson-Monfort, an Illinois signee, struck less than five minutes into the tilt, setting a tone that never wavered as M-S led 5-0 by halftime.

"Our focus is trying to maintain possession of the ball, which in that aspect, we look at it as you're defending all over the field," Bulldogs coach Joey Gruner said.

"We knew if we could keep control of the ball the whole time ... we were hoping for a good result."

Junior Haley Lester and senior Cassidi Collins also dented the twine for M-S, while Lester and seniors Erin Lenschow and Michaela Schoolcraft each contributed an assist to the outcome.

The Vikings, who were paced by 10 saves from senior netminder Mary Emma York, kept an upbeat attitude.

"My girls are pretty realistic," Danville coach Katie Gremar said. "We knew going in that it's going to be tough. But we knew we wanted to play the full 80-minute game. Just enjoy(ing) the last game of the year was the biggest focus."

Key threats such as speedy sophomore Grace Awodeha and junior Lauren Ellis were stifled by the Bulldogs.

"When we focus on not just shutting down one person, when we focus on a team effort defensively," Gruner said, "it's a lot easier to shut down a talented, athletic player."

M-S now must turn its attention to Normal U-High in Saturday's regional final at 1 p.m. at Centennial.

The two former Corn Belt foes are used to facing off in the regular season, but will meet for the first time this season on Saturday. Despite a lack of typical familiarity, Singleton said she anticipates a sufficient test from the Pioneers, who placed second in state last year in 1A.

"I think it'll be a lot more of a challenge," she said. "It's an opponent we've played before, and we have a lot better idea of how good they are."

Chargers falter. Senior Cassie Trosino scored two goals in the final 17 minutes of Tuesday's first half to lift No. 3 Normal U-High to a 3-1 regional semifinal win against No. 5 Centennial.

Trosino stayed on the pitch the entire match because, in addition to being a potent offensive option, coach Hayley Sefton's club was down multiple athletes due to injury and personal reasons.

"We were hoping, more or less, to get through this one and then be closer to full force," Sefton said. "It was a little ugly, but I'll take a win being ugly over a loss being perfect any day."

Freshman Taylor Davis generated a goal early in the second half, aided by senior Mary Woods, to cut the deficit in half for the Chargers (8-12). But a strike by freshman Pioneer Kendall Bray later in the half ultimately extinguished Centennial's flame.

"I thought we played really well until the last goal," Chargers coach Jim Meissen said. "We were able to come back and be really competitive."

Centennial senior Casey Lavin returned from a lengthy injury absence to spark the Chargers, who responded to a one-shot first half by challenging U-High sophomore keeper Sophie Dorgan with eight attempts on over the last 40 minutes. But neither occurrence was enough to stop Centennial's season from finishing on a sour note.

"We put pretty good pressure on with opportunities and just weren't able to get more than (one)," Meissen said. "(I've enjoyed) just seeing kids improve, and hopefully that'll keep going next year."

Marroons stun Tigers. Champaign Central’s 4-0 girls’ soccer victory over Urbana on April 12 meant nothing during Tuesday’s Class 2A Normal West Regional semifinal match.

The feisty sixth-seeded Tigers jumped ahead of the fourth-seeded Maroons 2-0 by halftime.
Enter Central’s Kate Storsved. The junior tallied a pair of goals, including the game-winner with seven seconds to play in regulation, lifting the Maroons to a thrilling 3-2 victory and securing a spot in Friday’s regional championship match.

“It actually started in that last minute. Urbana went flying down the other way and had a really good scoring opportunity, and (senior goalkeeper) Maya Lamkin just snagged it,” Central coach Steve Whiteley said. “We went the other way, the ball bounced around and got on Kate’s foot, and she put it in the top of the net.”

Storsved also struck in the 45th minute, trimming a deficit the Tigers (8-13) created with first-half markers from sophomore Estefanny Ruiz and senior Kailey McQueen.

Whiteley said Storsved’s first conversion loosened up a group that was somewhat shell-shocked at intermission. But a Tigers’ own goal in the 70th minute tied the match at 2 and set up the dramatic win for Central (11-8).

Central, which garnered eight saves from Lamkin, moves on to face top-seeded Normal West for postseason hardware. The Wildcats (16-5-3) defeated the Maroons 7-0 on May 3 in Big 12 Conference action.