Normal West 3, Pekin 1
EAST MOLINE -
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.