High School Sports

Triad puts Cyclones in a twist to earn state soccer berth

Triad's Meaghan Smith controls possession of the ball during a game against Althoff earlier this season. The Knights defeated Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin to advance to the IHSA Class 2A State Tournament this weekend.
Triad's Meaghan Smith controls possession of the ball during a game against Althoff earlier this season. The Knights defeated Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin to advance to the IHSA Class 2A State Tournament this weekend. znizami@bnd.com

Sacred Heart-Griffin High School was the first Central State Eight Conference program to qualify for a girls state soccer tournament more than 20 years ago and on Tuesday it attempted to become its most recent qualifier.

Triad dashed the Cyclones hopes, however, in the Class 2A Rochester Super-Sectional. Triad junior defender Madeline Keller scored the game-winning goal in the second half of a 1-0 win at Rochester Elementary School.

The Knights (20-6) advance to a state tournament semifinal Friday against Burlington Central.

Triad’s offense dominated the game by outshooting SHG 25-4. It wasn’t until a defensive error that Keller finally found the net with 26 minutes 37 seconds left in the second half.

Sophomore Jordyn Besserman played a cross to the middle of the field that was swatted down by SHG junior goalkeeper Hanna Sternitzke. The Cyclones failed to clear the ball totally out of its side of the field and Keller was there to knock it back in.

She slid a low shot in the net and Triad led 1-0.

Although Keller plays defense, Triad coach Matt Bettlach has given her the green light to get involved in the offensive action.

“She has scored a few goals,” he said. “There was a time early in the year where she played wing midfield. She’s a natural defender, but she runs cross country and can run all day. Because she has that ability she can go all day long. She can run and down that sideline for 80 minute and be fine. That’s why we tell her to go. The other (defenders) weren’t up as far up as Maddie because she will go and she knows she has the endurance to do it.”

SHG ends its season with a 19-6-1 overall record.

Although its offensive chances were few, SHG had a few dangerous counterattacks particularly in the first half. The game remained scoreless at halftime despite several near misses by Triad, who controlled possession.

“They were a great team and high pressure, so as soon I as I got the ball I had to know where I was going immediately,” SHG senior Karmen Vicari-Endres said. “We weren’t possessing very well at the top so it was hard to hold it. They were pressuring so much we didn’t really have numbers up top. It was hard to get those counters, but it was nice when we got them. It was just hard to capitalize.”

SHG made its only trip to state in 1995 when it reached the quarterfinals of the single-class state tournament and lost 1-0 to Palatine. For the second straight year, the Cyclones were denied a chance to make their second state appearance in program history. The 2016 season ended in a 1-0 loss in a penalty kick shootout to Alton Marquette in Class 1A super-sectional.

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