TROY, Ill. – The thought of last season’s 5-0 loss to Chatham Glenwood in the Class 2A girls soccer super-sectional haunted Triad.

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The only way to make things right was to return the favor, which the Knights did Tuesday night when they hosted the Titans, again meeting in the super-sectional.

This time it was all Triad with two late second-half goals deciding a 2-0 game.

With the result, the Knights move on to the state tournament semifinals against Peoria Notre Dame (24-1-1) on Friday, May 31 at 3 p.m. at North Central College in Naperville.

It also means that last year's defeat is a distant memory.

“What happened last year,” Triad head coach Matt Bettlach asked with a smile after the win.

It was the fourth straight meeting between the two teams in the super-sectional. It will be Triad’s seventh trip to the state tournament and its fifth since 2017.

The Titans, a familiar opponent of Triad, had most of the possession and the wind at their backs in the first half. The constant pressure nearly paid off a little over a half hour in.

Chatham’s Caroline Cody found a hole in the defense and ran onto a through ball from about 30 yards out. She took a few touches and was met by an on-rushing Peyton Hartmann at the edge of the 18-yard box.

Hartmann slide tackled Cody and the ball ended up being put out of play by a Triad defender.

The center official didn’t have a clear look at the action, so he had a short talk with his linesman who was in a better position. After the two put their heads together, the center referee pointed to the penalty spot in the 33rd minute.

Lyla Franke stepped up to take the penalty kick and she went to Hartmann’s right, but the Triad keeper was able to get a palm on it and push it away. After a mad scramble, the ball was cleared away by the Triad defense and the game remained scoreless.

“A lot of emotions going on right now,” Bettlach said after the game. “Our goaltender played incredible. From the PK to the breakaway, [she] made a couple of other really nice saves. She just showed up today.”

Hartmann only recently rejoined the team after dealing with a prolonged knee injury. In November she re-tore her meniscus in two spots and wasn’t even sure if she’d play high school soccer this season.

“My only motivation was to get back for high school. I wasn’t even supposed to be back in May,” she said.

She was pretty confident she could make the PK save. According to her, the team practices them daily, and she saves quite a few.

“Honestly, I don’t even look at their foot,” she said. “Once you save a lot of PKs, even in practice, you learn what motions are going which way.”

Chatham, a team that definitely has a height advantage over Triad, was looking threatening with its over-the-top balls, especially in the wind.

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Things really picked up in the 25th minute when Jaden Sparks was shown a yellow card for a hard tackle. An ominous gray cloud rolled over the area and the winds began to pick up as if a storm was inbound, but not a drop of rain fell from the sky.

“I liked the way we started the game, then that cloud rolled in,” Bettlach said. “It was right when we got that yellow card. The winds changed and so did the game. But kudos to [Chatham]. They didn’t give up and they kept going when our girls took a step back, and we shouldn’t have.”

Triad merely survived the first half.

The second half was much more evenly played, although neither team had any potent attacking chances. The Knights wanted to end things with a bang.

In the 78th minute, London Looby found the back of the net for her 16th goal of the season.

“She’s on a roll,” Bettlach said about Looby. “She’s come a long way this year. She started out as a center mid, then we put her up at the wind forward. She’s got the ability to score, so then we put her at the nine, and she’s been doing very well since.”

90 seconds later Alina Ayran scored her ninth of the year and the party in Troy was on.

“When we found out we were hosting the super-sectional, when we told the girls that, their faces lit up,” Bettlach said. “We haven’t hosted a super-sectional; we’ve always had to travel.”

Bettlach thanked the Troy community for always making their support known.

“This is such a great soccer community. We have great backing,” he said.

“I told the girls that there’s going to be a lot of family and friends here today, but also people here who are just fans of the game. So, I told them to go out and put on a show.”

Putting on a show is exactly what they did. A show that had Triad fans on the edge of their seat for 78 minutes.

Besides last year’s 5-0 defeat to Chatham, Triad won 2-0 each time in 2021 and 2022 when the Knights won back-to-back championships.

“Anytime you play Chatham, it’s going to be a dogfight,” Bettlach said. “They’re solid all over the field. I was getting nervous there at the end. It kind of just felt like we needed one little breakthrough, and we got it.”

Chatham’s season ends at 17-7-1 while the Knights improve to 21-4-1. Triad is unbeaten in its last 16 games, having lost on April 9, a 1-0 loss to Cor Jesu, a top-20 nationally ranked team according to Max Preps. The Knights also finished undefeated at home at 10-0-1.

The Knights now head back to Naperville, searching for a fifth state title, maybe with a little timely motivation from a passed-on sports icon.

“I gave them a quote today from Bill Walton: ‘You learn from yesterday, you dream about tomorrow, so make today your masterpiece.’ I heard that this morning and that quote was great for today,” Bettlach said.

“We learned from yesterday, which we lost 5-0 to them last year, and we dream about tomorrow, we want to go to state, we dream about going to Chicago this weekend, so we have to win today.”

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