FREEBURG — Hardly pressured Tuesday thanks to their ability to maintain possession much of the game, the Gibault Hawks were content to wait patiently for their scoring opportunities.
They converted two of them and got goals from freshmen Abby Hasenstab and Madi O'Neill in a 2-0 semifinal win over Mater Dei at the Class 1A Freeburg Girls Soccer Sectional.
"They gave us a lot of space and we just possessed the heck out of them," said Gibault coach Matt Reeb, whose 13-5 squad notched its 10th shutout and will take on Marquette (15-4-1) in the sectional title game at 5 p.m. Friday. "We made them chase us the whole game and that obviously transitions to good defense as well, because they can't get anything going forward whenever we're in possession.
"We did that very well today. We were slow, we were patient, we looked for our opportunities."
Marquette knocked off Harrisburg 4-0 Tuesday in the second semifinal match.
After Hasenstab was taken down in the box by a defender, Gibault was awarded a free kick and it led to a goal. Freshman Carley Olson took the kick from 25 yards out and Hasenstab crashed the net with several teammates, finishing off the rebound with 15 minutes, 27 seconds remaining in the first half.
The Hawks struck again before the first half ended when a throw-in by Katie Lamack sailed through a maze of players and found the foot of O'Neill. O'Neill scored to make it 2-0 with 6:41 left in the half.
"Katie's got a nice flip throw like that and puts it in dangerous situation," Reeb said. "I think we were looking for a flick but no one got anything on it. It just bounced right to (O'Neill) and she put it in."
Mater Dei coach Tim Vance said his team had trouble cracking the Hawks' defense as well as their strategy.
"We had a plan in the first half to try to sit in a little bit and try to keep the score 0-0 for as long as we could," Vance said. "We had one letdown where the other team got a goal and after that, you've got to change plans. Gibault definitely played well. I think both goals were more letdowns on our part, but that's the way it goes."
Mater Dei (12-7) made some halftime adjustments and was able to put a little pressure on Gibault in the second half.
Hawks goalkeeper Kendra Davis, who had five saves, scrambled to pick up a loose ball before Mater Dei's Maggie Fields could get there.
Gibault wound up with the bet scoring chance of the second half when a shot rang off the right post. Reeb said defense and goalkeeping has been consistently strong as the Hawks blanked Mater Dei's 21-goal scorer, Hope Huelsmann.
"The entire defense has played well the whole year," Reeb said. "I can't necessarily single out one girl. They constantly are making plays for us and constantly are such ball-winners in the back."
Vance said his team had trouble with the Hawks throughout the game.
"We just didn't have a sense of urgency in the box defensively to get the ball out," he said. "You've got to be tighter in the box because in the playoffs it could come own to one or two goals, and that's what happened today."