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EDWARDSVILLE - Finley Scott and Avery Taake both scored in the game's opening 11 minutes, then Allie Tredway scored late in the first half as the O'Fallon defense clamped down on the Edwardsville attack as the Panthers went on to a 3-0 win over the host Tigers in the semifinals of the IHSA Class 3A sectional Tuesday afternoon at Tiger Stadium.
The win puts O'Fallon through to the final on Friday evening, where they will meet Minooka, a 6-4 winner over Normal Community in the other semifinal that was played in Bloomington.
The Panthers had the far better of the play in the first half, with the Tigers coming up with some good opportunities in the second half, but O'Fallon had too much of the edge throughout to take the win and eliminate Edwardsville.
"They got a goal we probably should have saved it," said Tigers head coach Abby Federmann, "which just kind of sets the tone when you get scored on in the first six minutes and climb back out of it. We weren't fixing our mistakes on the improv. We weren't playing improve, we were just playing how we know, so we weren't thinking outside the box. Once we went to halftime and we were able to talk it out, obviously, we had more opportunities. Our performance was good, man The better team won today, so that's just the way it is."
It was the last game for the Tiger seniors, who helped take the program to great heights and will be greatly missed.
"Yeah, it's a good group of seniors," Federmann said, "We kind of run the gamut. I've got girls who played on varsity all four years, I've got girls who played varsity one year. They're just a humble, special group and I'm excited to see what they do after today. They're going to do great things."
It helps set the Edwardsville program up to even greater heights and promises in the future.
"Yeah, absolutely," Federmann said. "They've always been really good mentors to the younger girls. We have some fantastic freshmen, but they wouldn't be as good as they are without those seniors in front of them. So it was just a really great team, it was a lot of fun this season. A lot of personality. And it's nothing to hang our heads. You want to hang your head on a 19-4 season, that's a pretty darn good season, with 12 shutouts. So there's a lot to be proud of. Our region, our section's hard to get out of and I give all the credit to O'Fallon and I hope they go all the way."
O'Fallon coach Justin Judiscak also gave much credit to the Tigers for their efforts during the match.
"It was a high-level, competitive game," Judiscak said. "Edwardsville's an amazing team and we knew it was just going to be a back-and-forth. And I think between the heat and the intensity of the game, I think both sides were run ragged really quickly. But in the first eight or nine minutes, both teams were exhausted just putting their full effort in. Getting those two goals early kind of gave us that mental edge to continue to push on. It's hard to put full effort into a game when the other team gets something into the back of the net. So I know that was a mental shift for us to continue to press on."
After getting the two early goals, the Panthers were able to shut down the Edwardsville attack and put its stamp on the match.
"When we met together with the girls, it was congratulations to our back line," Judiscak said. "Because those girls in the back did an amazing job shutting down Olivia Baca, who's had an amazing career, have nothing but respect for her. She's an amazing talent up top. Amongst other girls, Thea (Dimitroff) and a lot of the other girls. So our back line, to do what they did tonight and shut them down, was just a great effort on their part."
Scott, who's not normally known as a goal scorer, started the Panthers off right with a good shot that snuck inside the post into the net in the sixth minute to give the Panthers a lead they would never relinquish.
"It didn't surprise us, necessarily," Judiscak said, "it kind of took everybody by surprise that she would be the one to get us that first goal. Pushing up into the attack is something we want our outside backs to do. But then, to be able to find an opportunity and put it on net was awesome."
The Scott goal in the sixth minute helped set the tone for the match, as the Tigers failed to clear a ball out of their third and Scott took her shot that somehow got inside the far post and into the net to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead. O"Fallon doubled the lead five minutes later, when the ball bounced through a maze of players and reached an unmarked Taake inside the box, who simply tapped in in front in the 11th minute to give the Panthers a 2-0 lead.
Edwardsville failed to connect on a series of corner kicks shortly afterward and the O'Fallon defense started to shut down the Edwardsville attack very effectively. The backbreaker goal came in the 38th minute when Taake put a brilliant through ball to Tredway, who slotted the ball home to give O'Fallon a 3-0 halftime lead.
After the interval, the Tigers came out and had some good opportunities, but were turned back by the Panther defense. Brynna Archer had a good chance that was stopped by O'Fallon goalie Kendall Joggerst. and the best chance came in the 62nd minute when Baca had a clear-cut breakaway off a great pass, but her shot just went past the far post and wide. The O'Fallon defense shut down the Tigers the rest of the way to give the Panthers the 3-0 win and advance to the Round of 16.
Edwardsville ends their season at 19-4-0, while the Panthers are now 17-3-1 and move on to the final on Friday night against Minooka, with the kickoff at Tiger Stadium coming at 6 p.m.
The winner advances to the super-sectional match at Bloomington High School against the Aurora East sectional winner, either Aurora Metea Valley or Plainfield North, next Tuesday in a 5 p.m. kickoff. The state finals are set for North Central College in Naperville June 2-3.
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