Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Normal West 3, Pekin 1

Pekin High School’s splendid girls’ soccer season came to an end Tuesday night with a 3-1 loss to Normal West in the semifinals of the Class 3A East Moline Sectional.
Second-seeded Normal West (16-4-3) advances to Friday’s championship against top-seeded Normal Community (22-1), and 8-1 winner over host East Moline.
The third-seeded Lady Dragons (13-5-2) didn’t go down without a fight and actually got on the board first. About eight minutes into the game, Pekin forced a corner kick and for the eighth time this season freshman Sarah Zuercher found Michaela Quilty for a goal off a corner.
“That combination is extremely dangerous,” said Pekin coach Edgar Sandoval. “Sarah serves a great ball and Michaela times her runs so well.”
Normal West struck back two minutes later when midfielder Jen Guy crossed to Jordan Becker who finished it off with a beautiful header. The score remained 1-1 until later in the half when Guy scored on a pass from Becker.
“We played a good first half, they just executed perfectly on those two plays,” Sandoval said.
The score remained 2-1 for most of the second half with Pekin sophomore keeper Morgan Lynn stopping several strong West chances in the box. The Lady Dragons had several chances of their own, but Wildcats keeper Erin McGinnis was equal to the challenge.
In the end, it was another Becker header from point blank range with three minutes to go that ended the Lady Dragons’ season.
“We graduate a senior class of six terrific young women, five of whom have been with me on varsity for four years, “Sandoval said. “I will miss them very much. But they laid the foundation for a very bright future.”
Second in the Mid-Illini Conference (9-1-2), the Lady Dragons return nine starters and 16 players in total that account for 91 percent of this year’s goals and assists. Pekin will also get back it’s top five defenders and starting goalkeeper.
NOTES: The 2009 Lady Dragons set program records for most wins, fewest losses, most goals scored and fewest goals allowed. For the first time ever, three Pekin players: juniors Marissa McGurr, Colleen Quilty and freshman Sarah Zuercher, were voted all-sectional by the Illinois High School Coaches Association. Coach Edgar Sandoval was voted Coach of the Year by the Section 13 (includes the Peoria and Quad Cities areas) coaches.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Tough Road For Pekin Soccer Team

Could there be a tougher Illinois High School Association girls soccer regional in the state than the Class 3A East Moline Regional?
It’s doubtful. Going into the regional, the five teams in the field had a combined 68-25-8 record.
No. 1 seed Normal Community (21-1) and No. 3 seed Pekin (13-4-2) have set school records for victories in a season.
Normal Community has won 20 straight games and outscored its opponents 100-9. Its only loss is a 1-0 setback to Peoria Notre Dame.
No. 2 seed Normal West (15-4-3), which finished third in last year’s Class AA state finals, has won five consecutive regional championships.
No. 4 seed East Moline (11-7-1) and No. 5 seed Moline (9-10-1) are no slouches.
After being rained out Friday, East Moline and Moline collided in a play-in game Monday and East Moline won 2-0 thanks to two second-half goals.
East Moline will face Normal Community at 4:30 p.m. today, followed by Pekin vs. Normal West at 6:30 p.m.
The winners will play in the regional championship game at 5 p.m. Friday, with the champ moving on to the Normal Sectional to face the Minooka Regional winner May 26 at Normal Community.
Pekin is 0-2 against Normal West and Normal Community this season. The Lady Dragons dominated the second half but lost 2-0 to Normal West in the championship game of the Lady Dragons Invitational, and they fell 2-1 to Normal Community in their season opener.
Despite those losses, Pekin coach Edgar Sandoval is glad he added those teams to his schedule.
“I think my forward thinking has paid off,” he said. “At least our girls are familiar with those teams.”
Normal West crushed Pekin 11-1 in 2004 and 8-0 in 2005 in previous regional games. But this is an entirely different Pekin team. It’s filled with a talented freshman class and solid veterans.
“It’s special,” said Sandoval, who nearly has run out of adjectives to describe the Lady Dragons. “This is the first Pekin team I’ve coached that has the ability to be truly competitive in every game we play.”
The Lady Dragons went 9-1-2 in the rugged Mid-Illini Conference, good for second place. They were 3-1-2 against conference champion Morton, Metamora and Dunlap, outscoring them 12-9, after going 0-13 and being outscored 52-1 by the trio in Pekin’s first two seasons in the conference.
Shock waves reverberated across the area soccer world April 28 when Pekin upset Morton 3-2, ending the Lady Potters’ 68-match conference unbeaten streak. Morton hadn’t lost a Mid-Illini game since 2003.
Pekin hasn’t lost back-to-back games all season. In addition to their 13 victories, the Lady Dragons’ four losses, 59 goals and 21 goals allowed are all school records.
“What these girls have accomplished goes beyond my wildest expectations,” Sandoval said. “I would have been incredibly pleased if we had gone 8-4 in the conference.”
If Pekin beats Normal West and advances to Friday’s regional championship game, Sandoval will have to change his weekend plans.
He’s scheduled to fly from Peoria to Las Vegas on Friday for a family get-together. If he needs to coach Friday, he’ll fly out Saturday from Chicago.
“I’ve told the girls, ’Make me miss my flight Friday,’” Sandoval said.
Pekin’s leading scorers are freshman Sarah Zuercher (18 goals, 19 assists), freshman Michaela Quilty (13 goals, seven assists) and junior Shawna Swisher (10 goals, four assists.)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Pekin 3, Dunlap 1

DUNLAP — The Pekin girls soccer team capped off their best season ever with a 3-1 Mid-Illini Conference win at Dunlap Thursday.
Shawna Swisher got the Dragons on the board with a goal just seven minutes into the game off a Sarah Zuercher assist. Zuercher then found the back of the net with less than a minute to go in the first half to put Pekin up, 2-0.
“We spent a big chunk of practice the other day scrimmaging where every pass had to stay on the ground,” said Pekin coach Edgar Sandoval. “I think it really helped us refocus and got us playing the way we were playing at our peak a few weeks ago.”
Zuercher pushed the lead to 3-0 with a goal off an assist from Lauren Cash, giving Zuercher 18 goals on the year, just two off the team single-season record.
The Eagles got on the board with about four minutes to go on a beautifully placed shot by Dunlap’s Jenna Haste, but it was too little too late.
“They dominated us for two years, so to sweep them this year is very satisfying,” Sandoval said.
“It is one of many great milestones this team has reached.”

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Richwoods 4, Pekin 3

PEKIN — Coming off a record-setting Senior Night on Thursday, Pekin had its momentum halted by Richwoods, as the host Lady Dragons fell to the Lady Knights by a score of 4-3 Saturday.
Pekin set a record for wins in a season (12) on Thursday night, but the Lady Dragons (12-4-2) couldn’t quite hold off Louisville-recruit Courtney Holtz, who found the net twice in Richwoods’ Saturday win.
Nicole Strube struck first for the Lady Knights, scoring 3:55 into the game, while Holtz followed up just over 20 minutes later with her first goal.
“Holtz and Strube are fast and they work well together,” Pekin coach Edgar Sandoval said. “We had a plan. They were just able to execute better.”
Pekin freshman Sarah Zuercher answered back with the first of her two goals to bring the Lady Dragons within one at the half.
Zuercher tied the game with her second goal five minutes into the second period on an assist from junior Lauren Cash, but Holtz retaliated with a penalty kick seven minutes later to put Richwoods ahead 3-2.
Pekin junior Shawna Swisher tied the game once more, but Strube’s second goal was enough to give the Lady Knights their sixth win of the year, compared to nine losses and no ties.
“No one play loses a match,” Sandoval said. “We had plenty of chances. Obviously we wanted the win, but it was a terrific back-and-forth battle.”
The Lady Dragons will finish up the regular season Wednesday at Dunlap and will begin regional play on Friday.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Pekin 7, East Peoria 1

PEKIN, Ill. -
The Pekin girls’ soccer team celebrated Senior Night by beating East Peoria 7-1 Thursday and setting a program record for wins in a season (12).
The Lady Dragons also topped their record for goals in a season (53) and are on the way to setting a new mark for fewest losses in a season as well (6).
After the game was delayed by lightning for more than 30 minutes, Sarah Zuercher connected on a 30-yard free kick for the only score of the first half.
“Sarah is so unselfish and you could see how hard she was working to get our seniors some quality scoring opportunities on Senior Night,” coach Edgar Sandoval said.
In the second half, Zuercher assisted on goals by fellow freshmen Michaela Quilty and Megan McGurr. Allie Zuercher got the seniors on the board with a left-footed strike. The younger Zuercher then followed up with her team-leading 14th goal of the season.
Junior Shawna Swisher and freshman Nichole Fulk wrapped up the scoring for the Lady Dragons in the second half. Fulk’s goal was the first of her career.
Pekin (12-3-2, 8-1-2) clinched at least a tie for second in the Mid-Illini Conference. The Lady Dragons host Richwoods and the area’s top player, Louisville recruit Courtney Holtz, at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Pekin 4, Washington 0

WASHINGTON — With a 4-0 Mid-Illini Conference shutout over Washington Tuesday, the Pekin High School girls’ soccer team tied the program record for wins in a season with 11.
The Lady Dragons’ superior speed was evident on the first goal. At about three minutes in, sophomore defender Danica Mason sent a ball over the top to freshman forward Michaela Quilty, and Quilty put the ball far post for the early game winner.
Junior forward Emily LaBanca added two first-half goals, the second on a beautiful through ball from freshman Sarah Zuercher.
“We had a decent first half,” Pekin coach Edgar Sandoval said. “We just needed to stop trying to force it down the middle. That’s not how we’re most effective.”
After working the flanks, Pekin got on the board two minutes into the second half. The Lady Dragons earned a corner kick and Zuercher drilled the ball towards the far post. Quilty used her chest to force it in for the final score of the match.
Lindsay Coffey, Morgan Lynn and Kaitlyn Worrall combined for the Lady Dragons’ seventh shutout of the season.
Pekin (11-3-2. 7-1-2) hosts East Peoria at 4:15 p.m. Thursday at Coal Miners Park. Senior night festivities will take place at halftime.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Pekin 1, Metamora 1

After ending Morton’s 68-game conference winning streak, the Pekin girls soccer team came back to Earth on Friday, but were still able to manage a 1-1 tie with Metamora. The Lady Dragons came out flat and gave up a goal to the Redbirds’ Kristin Rauh 16 minutes into the first half.

“Coming off such an emotional win, we really struggled to get focused," said Pekin coach Edgar Sandoval. But this is uncharted territory for us.”

The Lady Dragons came out much stronger the second half with seven shots on goal. Junior Shawna Swisher’s blast with 12 minutes to go was saved by Metamora’s Martina Fraboni, but she couldn’t catch it. Sarah Zuercher crashed the box and sent it home for the equalizer.

Pekin had several solid chances in the last several minutes, many created by Marissa McGurr, who moved up to the midfield, but it just wasn’t to be.

“We dominated the second half, but were just unable to get that second goal," Sandoval said. "But they shut us out twice last year, so the fact that they couldn’t put us away twice this year is still great progress. Unfortunately it’s probably going to cost us our share of the conference title.”

Pekin outshot Metamora 9 to 5. The Lady Dragons travel to Washington on Tuesday.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pekin 3, Morton 2

MORTON, Ill. -
If there was a way to gauge how far Pekin High School’s girls’ soccer team has come this season, it would be against Mid-Illini power Morton.
On Tuesday night, the Dragons passed that test with flying colors, beating Morton 3-2 to hand the Potters their first loss in conference play since 2003.
Junior Danica Mason’s first career goal with less than four minutes to play was the game-winner, sending Pekin into a tie for first-place in the league with the Potters.
“It is an incredible feeling,” Pekin coach Edgar Sandoval said. “This is the result of all the hard work in the off season, playing with passion and believing in each other.”
The Potters got on the board first when SIU-Edwardsville signee Kristin Dierker beat the Dragons defense and scored about 20 minutes into the match.
But the Lady Dragons answered back. Junior Shawna Swisher found freshman Sarah Zuercher at the top of the box, Zuercher put a beautiful move on her defender and launched a rocket past Morton keeper Brooke Bisping to knot it up going into the half.
It was the first goal Pekin had ever scored on Morton.
“That goal gave us a lot of confidence,” said Sandoval, who notched his 50th career victory. “It let our girls know that Morton is beatable. But I challenged them to focus. … one play, one touch, one possession at a time and not think about the result.”
The Lady Dragons (10-3-1, 6-1-1) fell behind again when sophomore Holly Bennett scored on a header just after halftime.
But unlike previous matches with Morton, Pekin would not be denied. Midway through the half, Swisher found Zuercher again and this time she blasted it home to tie the match again.
The game remained tied with Pekin and Morton threatening to score several times before the Lady Dragons forced their sixth corner kick.
“I started screaming ‘aim for the six’ (top of the goal box) because the wind had taken Sarah’s last three corner tries,” Sandoval said.
Zuercher’s strong drive found it’s way through the Morton defense where Mason was waiting at the top of the box for the game winner.
Pekin’s Morgan Lynn was outstanding in goal, stopping 17 Morton shots including several diving saves.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Pekin 3, Lincoln 0; Normal West 2, Pekin 0

PEKIN, Ill. -
For the first time in the three-year history of the Lady Dragons Invitational, the Pekin girls soccer team lost a game.
But coach Edgar Sandoval wasn’t singing the blues after the Lady Dragons fell 2-0 Saturday to Normal West at Coal Miners Park.
“I’m happier about how we played in this game than in our previous three games, which we won,” Sandoval said.
After giving up two goals to Normal West within 1:01 just past the midway point of the first half, Pekin (9-3-1) had last season’s third-place finisher in the Class AA state finals reeling most of the remainder of the game.
The Lady Dragons didn’t allow a shot in the second half. They won the majority of the 50/50 balls, and had the Lady Wildcats (9-2-2) resorting to hard fouls and even grabbing a jersey to keep Pekin off stride.
Normal West goalie Erin McGinnis played a strong game. She made five saves.
“We lost our marks on their goals and we couldn’t finish on a couple of occasions, but other than that, we played very well,” Sandoval said. “We had six freshmen in the game at one point in the second half. That ought to scare some people.”
Normal West’s Katherine Riggins got behind the Pekin defense and scored with 19:07 to go in the first half, and Jordan Becker headed in a cross from Veronica Klein to make it 2-0.
Pekin goalie Morgan Lynn didn’t have much of a chance on either shot.
Sandoval added Normal West to the invitational field this year to give his young but talented team a test. That’s what it got Saturday.
“If all I cared about was winning, I would have kept the invitational the same,” Sandoval said. “Our girls need to be challenged.”
Pekin hadn’t been challenged in its first eight invitational games, dating to 2007. The Lady Dragons won all eight, outscoring their opponents 30-0.
Both Pekin and Normal West were undefeated in the two-day, four-team round-robin competition heading into their showdown.
The Lady Dragons beat Peoria Christian 2-0 and Lincoln 3-0. Normal West blanked Lincoln 3-0 and Peoria Christian 5-0.
Sarah Zuercher scored one goal and assisted on goals by Lauren Cash and Shawna Swisher in Pekin’s victory over Lincoln (2-10) earlier Saturday. Marissa McGurr assisted on Zuercher’s goal.
Pekin outshot Lincoln 14-2. Lynn and Lindsay Coffey shared the shutout.
The victory moved the Lady Dragons seven games above the .500 mark for the first time in the program’s 12-year history.
Peoria Christian (7-4), another first-year invitational team, defeated Lincoln 3-0 in the other game Saturday. The final invitational standings were Normal West 3-0, Pekin 2-1, Peoria Christian 1-2 and Lincoln 0-3.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Pekin 2, Peoria Christian 0

PEKIN, Ill. -
The Pekin girls soccer team got what it wanted Friday.
Coach Edgar Sandoval’s team defeated Peoria Christian 2-0 in the opening game of the third annual Lady Dragons Invitational at Coal Miners Park.
Keeping the Chargers scoreless was as important as the victory for Pekin because goals-allowed is a standings tie-breaker.
But Sandoval is seeing storm clouds on the horizon.
“We had a lot of success during a recent week-long stretch. Everything came very easily for us,” Sandoval said, referring to a three-game blitz from April 11-18 when Pekin outscored Dunlap, Washington and East Peoria by a combined 17-0.
Sandoval is concerned about what he saw after the first 17 minutes of his team’s 4-1 victory Thursday over Limestone, and what he watched for much of the game Friday.
“We’re getting away from what’s made us successful,” he said. “We’re trying to out-athletic people instead of outplay them. We can’t make long passes and use our speed all the time. That’s easy to defend.”
To put it in baseball terms, Sandoval said, the Lady Dragons (8-2-1) are trying to hit a home run too much of the time instead of mixing in some small ball.
But Sandoval is confident the Lady Dragons will get back on track.
“We have girls who have soccer experience, and know how to win,” he said. “You can tell on their faces that they know what’s happening. They’re policing each other, and they’re encouraging each other.”
Normal West defeated Lincoln 3-0 in the other invitational game Friday. The four teams will each play two games today.
Pekin scored two early goals against Peoria Christian (6-2), which already has equaled last year’s victory total.
Shawna Swisher converted a perfect cross from Michaela Quilty with 20:32 left in the first half, and Quilty banged home a corner kick from Sarah Zuercher with 14:02 to go.
Peoria Christian kept the Lady Dragons off the scoreboard after the early flurry, and had the better chances to score in the second half.
Pekin goalie Morgan Lynn wasn’t tested much in the first half, but Lindsay Coffey needed to be sharp in the second half. The two combined for five saves. Peoria Christian goalie Kristen Smith also had five saves.
Players on both teams were dragging a bit late in the game, played on a unseasonably warm, sunny afternoon.
“We’re not used to playing when the temperature is in the 80’s,” Sandoval said.
Pekin is now 7-0 in invitational history and has outscored its opponents 27-0 in those seven games.
The Lady Dragons will face Lincoln (2-8) at 9 a.m. and Normal West (7-2-2) at 3:30 p.m. today.

2009 Tournament Preview

PEKIN — This weekend’s third annual Lady Dragons Invitational girls soccer tournament bears no resemblance to the previous two tourneys.
Sure, Pekin and Lincoln remain in the four-team field, but Normal West and Peoria Christian have joined the fray at Coal Miners Park, replacing Peoria Woodruff and Sterling.
“We have a talented team. We need to be tested,” said Pekin coach Edgar Sandoval.
The Lady Dragons haven’t been tested much in their tournament. They have outscored their opponents 25-0 in six games over two years.
The two new teams give the tournament an entirely different feel.
Normal West (6-2-2) went 28-1 last season, losing only to eventual Illinois High School Association Class AA state champion Waubonsie Valley 1-0 in the state semifinals.
The Wildcats won the next day to earn the third-place trophy.
Peoria Christian (6-1) has lost only to Peoria Richwoods. No shame in that.
Lincoln (2-7) is better than its record. A tough schedule has given a Railsplitters a splitting headache. They’ve lost to defending Class A state champion Rochester and powerhouse Chatham Glenwood.
Tournament games will be played today and Saturday, with a point system for wins, losses and ties determining the champion. Each half will be 30 minutes instead of the usual 40 minutes.
Pekin (7-2-1) will face Peoria Christian at 4 p.m. today. It’ll be Lincoln vs. Normal West at 5:30 p.m.
On Saturday, Pekin and Lincoln will clash at 9 a.m., then Normal West and Peoria Christian will play at 10:30 a.m. It’ll be Lincoln vs. Peoria Christian at 2 p.m., and Pekin vs. Normal West at 3:30 p.m.
No admission will be charged either day.
Pekin’s expectations were high going into the season.
With all 11 starters in terms of scoring and minutes played returning from last year’s 11-7-3 team and six talented freshmen from the highly successful Pekin Pride ‘94 club team joining the roster, there was excitement in the air.
The expectations have transformed into results. Pekin is 4-1-1 halfway through the Mid-Illini Conference schedule.
The Lady Dragons have done well against Mid-Illini powers Dunlap, Metamora and Morton after going 0-13 against them and being outscored 41-1 in their first two years in the conference.
Pekin beat Dunlap 4-0, tied Metamora 1-1 and lost 4-0 to Morton after playing the Lady Potters to a scoreless tie at halftime.
“The second half against Morton is our only bad half this season,” Sandoval said.
Pekin’s only other loss was a 2-1 setback to Normal Community in its opener. Sandoval thinks Normal Community might be the most talented team on the Lady Dragons’ schedule.
Michaela Quilty heads into the tournament as Pekin’s leading scorer with nine goals. She’s already shattered Emily LaBanca’s freshman season record of six goals, set in 2007.
Quilty also has four assists. Freshman Sarah Zuecher leads Pekin in assists with nine and she also has seven goals.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Pekin 4, Limestone 1

PEKIN, Ill. -
PEKIN — The Pekin girls’ soccer team continued its winning ways Thursday with a 4-1 Mid-Illini Conference victory over Limestone at Coal Miners Park.
The Lady Dragons (7-2-1, 5-1-1) put it away early as junior Shawna Swisher scored three goals in the first 17 minutes.
“Shawna has been sacrificing her own offense and doing everything I’ve asked to help the team this year and it has paid off, so it’s nice to see her break out like this,” said Pekin coach Edgar Sandoval.
Swisher’s first goal came just five minutes into the contest after freshman Sarah Zuercher played a perfect ball right in front of the goal. The assist was Zuercher’s 10th, which ties the Pekin record for most assists in a season.
Down 3-0, the Rockets struck back when senior Rachel Kyle dribbled past several Pekin defenders and blasted the ball into the net, ending Pekin’s consecutive shutout streak at three.
In the second half it was Swisher returning the favor, assisting on Zuercher’s eighth goal of the season. Despite the Lady Dragons’ six-match undefeated streak (5-0-1), Sandoval was dissatisfied with his team’s effort.
“The truth is after a great first 17 minutes, we played really uninspired soccer,” Sandoval said. “I don’t know if we felt like they weren’t going to try after that or what. It was good enough to win today, but our girls feel like we can play better than that… and we’re going to have to if we want to do well in our tournament.”

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Pekin 8, East Peoria 0

EAST PEORIA — Pekin dominated both ends of the field Saturday, holding East Peoria without a shot on the way to an 8-0 Mid-Illini Conference girls’ soccer victory at EastSide Centre.
After forcing a corner kick a minute into the game, freshmen Michaela Quilty scored off a serve from classmate Sarah Zuercher. The two have combined for four goals off corners this season.
Their older sisters accounted for the next goal, when senior Allie Zuercher found junior Colleen Quilty at the top of the box for a goal 10 minutes later. Allie Zuercher and Michaela Quilty later scored on assists from freshman Nichole Fulk to close out first half scoring.
Michaela Quilty, Lauren Cash, Sarah Zuercher and Shawna Swisher each scored in the second half, allowing Quilty to finish with a hat trick. Zuercher tallied three assists and senior Mallory Dodson recorded her first career assist.
“East Peoria is young, but the fact is they only start one more underclassman than we do,” Pekin coach Edgar Sandoval said. “I think our girls had this one circled on the calendar and came out with great focus and determination.”
Pekin (6-2-1, 4-1-1) will be home for its next four matches, hosting Limestone on Thursday, followed by their invitational tournament next weekend.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Pekin 5, Washington 0

PEKIN — The Pekin girls’ soccer team stretched its unbeaten streak to four matches with a 5-0 Mid-Illini Conference make-up win over Washington Thursday at Coal Miners Park.
For the second straight match, the Lady Dragons got on the board within minutes of the first whistle. Freshman Michaela Quilty finished off a corner kick from fellow freshman Sarah Zuercher for Pekin’s only goal of the first half.
“We were a little out of sync in the first half,” said Pekin coach Edgar Sandoval. “It wasn’t that we were playing poorly. We just misjudged balls and mistimed a bunch of runs. At halftime, I challenged the girls to work harder without the ball and show that they’re better than what the scoreboard read.”
The Lady Dragons responded. After a Washington foul just outside its box, Zuercher found Quilty again far post for a goal from point blank. Twenty minutes later Zuercher tallied her third assist of the game — another corner kick, this one to junior Emily LaBanca. From there, Quilty got into the giving spirit as she assisted on goals to Zuercher and senior Jakki Johnson.
Zuercher and Quilty each have six goals on the season, tying LaBanca’s Pekin record for goals scored by a freshman. The Lady Dragons (5-2-1, 3-1-1) defense was stout, limiting the Panthers to just one shot on goal.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Pekin 4, Dunlap 0

PEKIN, Ill. -
For 13 years, the Pekin girls’ soccer program has been working towards a signature victory over one of the area’s soccer heavyweights. They finally got it Saturday morning in a dominating 4-0 win over Dunlap.
“Our girls exceeded my highest expectations today,” Pekin coach Edgar Sandoval said. “I couldn’t be more proud.”
Freshman striker Sarah Zuercher gave the Lady Dragons the only goal they would need less than one minute into the game on a pass from freshman Michaela Quilty. She was also able to connect again midway through the half for another goal, this time from freshman midfielder Holly Spangler.
Midway through the half, freshman midfielder Holly Spangler took a drop from junior Lauren Cash just outside of the 18, then switched the ball to the right side where Zuercher buried it again for a 2-0 lead.
“Michaela and Holly made two great passes and to have a finisher like Sarah makes it rewarding and lot of fun for all of us,” Sandoval added.
Pekin was able to rack up two more goals after the break, when junior Shawna Swisher was able to connect on her first goal of the season and Quilty hit a shot from about 20 yards out with about seven minutes to play.
“Look, it’s just one win, but this is a significant milestone for our program,” Sandoval said. “To beat one of the top teams in the area after struggling to just get shots on their goal the past two years says a lot about how hard our girls have been working.”
Pekin (4-2-1, 2-1-1) hosts Washington on Tuesday. The Lady Panthers’ squad is 4-1-1 against the Lady Dragons the past three years.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Pekin 1, Metamora 1

PEKIN, Ill. -
The Pekin High school girls’ soccer team continues to make progress, going on the road to battle Metamora to a 1-1 Mid-Illini Conference tie Tuesday.
The Lady Dragons got on the board just before halftime. Freshman Holly Spangler played a great ball down the right side, where freshman Sarah Zuercher got to it in stride and sent it home from outside the 18 for Pekin’s first goal against the Redbirds since joining the league.
“They’ve shut us out for two straight years, outscoring us 12-0 and rarely allowing us a shot on goal,’’ Pekin coach Edgar Sandoval said. “So to take a lead into half and not lose ... that’s another step in the right direction for us.”
Metamora salvaged a tie when freshman Kristin Rauh hit a shot from just outside the 18 for the final score.
The Lady Dragons (3-2-1, 1-1-1) outshot the Redbirds 8-5 and host Dunlap on Saturday morning.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Pekin 3, Moline 1

After Moline had held 2008 state semifinalist Normal West to one goal and shut out perennial power Richwoods to open the season, it wasn’t likely that the Pekin girls' soccer team would hand them their first loss of the season. But after falling behind 1-0, the Lady Dragons (3-2) stormed back with three goals in a nine-minute span for the 3-1 road win on Saturday.

“I thought going into the season we could surprise some teams," Pekin coch Edgar Sandoval said. "They definitely weren’t expecting this from us after going 1-0-1 against those heavyweights.”

Moline (2-1-1) got on the board first when midfielder Cory Buenting lofted a shot that got caught in the wind and dropped into the Pekin net fifteen minutes into the first half.

Pekin got the equalizer about 20 minutes later on a goal by Colleen Quilty, who scored on a pass from her younger sister, Michaela. Quilty found the net again about 10 minutes later, beating the Moline goalkeeper for the go-ahead score.

“Colleen had a heck of a match today. She wanted it more than their midfielders and finished strong twice. And lots of credit to Holly (Spangler). Often the pass that sets up the assist is overlooked, but I recognize she created those chances as much as Michaela and Emily (LaBanca).”

The Lady Dragons added one insurance goal two minutes into the second half, as Jakki Johnson was able to score from just inside the right sideline.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Morton 4, Pekin 0

For one half, the Pekin girls soccer team played defending conference champ Morton even 0-0. But the second half was a different story as the Potters scored four goals in route to a 4-0 win at Coal Miner's Park.

Holly Bennett scored five minutes into the second half to get the Potters on the board. Pekin's best chance came on a corner kick just a few minutes later. Lady Dragons' freshman forward Sarah Zuercher's corner kick bent in and hit the crossbar.

"We had some defensive breakdowns and I think some of our girls were intimidated by their physical play," said Pekin coach Edgar Sandoval. Bennett had two goals for the Potters (1-1, 1-0)

The Lady Dragons (2-2, 1-1) will try to climb back over .500 when they travel to Moline on Saturday.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Pekin 5, Limestone 0

Pekin’s girls soccer team got through the bad weather and made things stormy for host Limestone Tuesday, shutting out the Rockets 5-0 in a Mid-Illini Conference match.
Colleen Quilty scored twice for the Lady Dragons, who handed Limestone (2-1, 0-1) its first loss of the season.
Quilty got Pekin on the board in the first half, scoring off a Sarah Zuercher assist in the 18th minute for the only tally of the first stanza.
Zuercher put the ball in the net next for the Lady Dragons, scoring off a Lauren Cash assist in the 45th minute. Quilty had an unassisted goal in the 57th minute, followed by Kelsey Armstrong’s unassisted goal in the 65th minute.
Jakki Johnson closed the scoring off a Zuercher assist in the 77th minute.
The Dragons will host six-time defending conference champion Morton on Thursday in a 4:15 p.m. match at Coal Miners Park.

NOTE: Michaela, not Colleen scored twice in this match.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Pekin 2, Orion 1

Pekin got on track Saturday, winning their first girls’ soccer match of the season 2-1 over host Orion-Sherrard.
The Lady Dragons got on the board just four minutes into the contest. Shawna Swisher flicked a Sarah Zuercher corner kick towards the far post, where freshman Megan Campbell set up and finished with a beautiful header for her first career goal.
“We’ve been working a lot on redirection and creating chaos in the box,’’ Pekin coach Edgar Sandoval said. “ Every opportunity in there is different, but getting them used to it is key.”
The score remained 1-0 with about ten minutes left in the half when Zuercher found Campbell on a give-and-go right down the middle. With two defenders draped all over her, Campbell found another freshman, Michaela Quilty, cutting in from the left side for her first career goal.
“Michaela had a couple chances against Normal Community that she wanted back and she was really focused in practice yesterday, even taking extra some shots on her own between drills.
Clearly it paid off,” Sandoval added.
Orion-Sherrard avoided the shutout on Amanda Schmendt’s second half goal.
Pekin outshot its host 16-5 but was unable to generate another goal.
“We just couldn’t find the back of the net. We had so many shots and many more chances and we just couldn’t take advantage,’’ Sandoval said. “They dropped a lot of defenders, but you have to be able to adjust.”
The Lady Dragons have a week of practice before kicking off the Mid-Illini Conference schedule with a trip to Limestone March 31.