LEBANON — For the past three years opponents of Belleville East have watched helplessly as Kayla Delgado's laser-like shots have found the back of the net.
But on a cold spring Friday night at McKendree University, Delgado's off-speed shot did the trick against the Althoff Crusaders.
Delgado scored off a direct kick with 11 minutes, 19 seconds remaining for the only goal of the game as East remained undefeated with a 1-0 win.
Marked well all night by a tough Crusaders defense, Delgado got her shot after an Althoff foul.
Taking aim from about 25 yards out, Delgado beat Crusaders goalie Kennedy Sonsoucie with the shot which went into left side of the net. The goal was Delgado's first of the season.
"T (Emily Constantini) and I are working on some things to trick people so we're not going the same things over and over again. I figured I would try going to my left and it worked out,'' Delgado said. "It was a tough game. This was not the same Althoff team as last years. These girls came back with a little fire. That's for sure."
Senior goalie Abigail Burgdorf was solid in the net all night long for the Lancers (3-0) who dealt Althoff its third straight shutout loss.
"I'm pretty proud of our girls," Delgado said. "Last year we lost about 10 seniors. We're not all healthy so its been a struggle. But we're doing good and I'm proud our outcome."
Delgado's goal was the offensive highlight of the night as the two city rivals struggled to put together good scoring chances.
Althoff (2-3) had solid chances in the first half from Rachel Kaltwasser and Natalie Heitzman, but Burgdorf made a couple of good saves. The Lancers best chances in the opening 40 minutes came from Delgado and Constantini, but sailed just over the goal.
For the most part however, Althoff did the job on the Lancers duo. Junior Savannah Ames checked Delgado for most of the night but got help from several teammates.
But on the goal, the Crusaders defense stood by as the ball floated into the net,
"Kayla's been double and triple teamed all year and so it's nice to see her get on the scoreboard," Belleville East coach Brad Dietrich said. "But I'll tell you what, Althoff executed their game plan very well. They could have won this game. Abbie (Burgdorf) has done a great job in net for us and I expected that because she's one of the captains on this team.
"We're not playing as well as we can. But tonight, the reason was Althoff. They are a good team."
Althoff's best scoring chance of the night came in the second half when Burgdorf made the initial shot from 35 yards out. The rebound rolled in front of the net, but the Lancers goalie was able to win the race to the ball and not allow an Althoff shot from point blank range.
Otherwise, the Crusaders young team, playing without top offensive player -- Alexis Jones (hamstring injury) gave East all it could handle.
"I'm very, very proud of my team tonight. Those young freshmen and sophomores, those guys did a superb job,'' Althoff coach Juergen Huettner said. "Savannah (Ames) had the primary job of checking Kayla (Delgado) did a good job. Their goal came on a dead ball.
"On offense, we're missing our star player in Alexis (Jones) and that's a big loss. We had some scoring opportunities that we couldn't put away. But the game itself -- I thought we had the better of the play.''