JOLIET — It wasn't always pretty Tuesday night, but the Minooka Indians girls soccer team did their job, shutting out the Joliet West Tigers 3-0 in the Joliet Central regional semifinals and advancing to the championship game Friday night against the winner of the Joliet Central versus Lincoln Way Central game.
The heat played a factor all throughout the game, as the game time temperature was 91 degrees. With both teams playing on the turf of Joliet Central, playing conditions became tough, mainly on the feet of the players.
Although the Indians came out flat early, they looked to their leader, senior Jill Hetfleisch, to get something going. The forward did just that, as she shot one from the left corner past West's Jolene Asbury for the goal, giving the Indians a 1-0 advantage. The shot came after Hetfleisch had hit a corner kick to teammate Marisol Galvan, who passed it back to the senior for the goal.
"That actually wasn't intended to be a shot. She always seems to make the tough shots from the craziest angles," Minooka head coach Chris Brolley said. "There was only two feet of space between the post and goalie, so put that goal at the top of her personal best."
Eight minutes later, the Indians added to their lead, as senior Lauren Simon headed one in off a corner kick from fellow senior Deaven Hudson to make it 2-0 Minooka. It was a big goal for Simon, as it was one of the few she's had all season.
"Every goal I've made this year has been a perfect assist from Hudson," Simon said of her teammate. "I just wait for her to give it to me, and then I just have to put it in the net."
From there, the Indians cruised, as they used their stifling defense to harass any Tiger attack. Joliet West only had three shots on the day, with the ball mostly being played in their end if the field.
The final goal came from junior Amanda Stuchly, who found some room in the defense to score seven minutes into the second half. Minooka just played keep-away from there for the victory.
With the win, Minooka advances to its third straight regional final, this time hoping to close the door this time around. The program only has one regional crown before, in 1999, and it looks to add another one Friday night back at Joliet Central.
"We're pretty confident in ourselves," Simon said. "We know that if we play our game, we'll have a chance to win."
"I was a little upset that we didn't come out the way we wanted to. The heat got to us, but we did what we had to do," Brolley added. "We're going to just need a team effort Friday. It'll be a battle, and I'm ready for it."