NORMAL — Facing a team of stars Tuesday, the Edwardsville Tigers were finished off by Waubonsie Valley's best.
Senior Kristen Dodson, an Auburn recruit, scored at 60 minutes, 13 seconds to give the Warriors a 1-0 victory in the Class 3A Normal Super-Sectional.
Dodson, racing down the left side, took a midfield pass from senior Mackenzie Fuller, beat two defenders and pushed a shot past charging senior goalkeeper Kristin Francis.
"We knew it was going to be tough coming out here," said Dodson, one of nine Division I recruits on Waubonsie Valley. "They were 23-1, so we knew it was going to be a tough game. We just had to go out there, play hard and try to get a goal as early as possible."
It wasn't early, but that made no difference in the end to the Warriors (22-1-3), who advanced to the state tournament and will face New Trier at 7 p.m. Friday at North Central College in Naperville. New Trier beat Barrington 1-0 in the Hersey Super-Sectional on Tuesday.
Dodson, who was dangerous throughout the game with her speed, tenacity and ball skills, barely got enough touch on her winnig shot. The ball eeked across the goal line just before junior teammate Cici Gazder could get to it to make sure nothing prevented the score.
"Mac had a great through-ball and I just kept running onto it," Dodson said of the play that set up her 24th goal of the season and her 10th game-winner. "I just got a tap on it. As long as it's in, I'm fine."
Tigers coach Abby Comerford said Francis was caught in-between on the play. Francis opted to attack the ball rather than wait on her line for a shot Dodson was sure to deliver.
"It's one of those difficult ones," said Comerford, whose team finished 23-2. "Mallory (Mushill) was right there, too. Tori (Harbison) was right there. It's just one where you have two defenders (on the play). Do you come out? Do you not come out?
"(Dodson) got behind us. She's their best player; she's going to Auburn. They had their chances, we had our chances. They (finished) theirs. They're a great team all-around."
Waubonsie Valley outshot Edwardsville 9-7 and had a 7-6 advantage in corner kicks. The Tigers had a chance in the final minute to tie the game, but a free kick by senior Taylor Thompson was high and wide from the right flank, nailing down the shutout for Iowa recruit Emma Rigby, a junior, in goal.
"Edwardville's a good team," Waubonsie Valley coach Julie Bergstrom said. "We just kept fighting and fighting. At one point, we get the goal and it's huge. The heat here, the long bus ride, all that stuff adds up. That goal kind of tipped it. (Dodson) has very good one-v.-one ability."
Waubonsie Valley will be shooting for its fourth state championship since 2007. The Warriors won the Class AA title in 2007 and 2008 and the Class 3A crown in 2010. The 2008 team defeated Althoff 3-0 for the title.
Comerford fought back tears when she talked about her team's long list of accomplishments. The Tigers set single-season school records for victories, shutouts (20) and fewest goals allowed (five).
"After the game, the girls were crying," said Comerford, acknowledging some "tearing up" of her own. "(But) we have so many players coming back. It's great to see."
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at email@example.com or 239-2665.