The Morris Lady Redskins have had their difficulties creating offense facing three of the Northern Illinois Big 12 East’s best teams in their last three games, but in their regional semifinal against the Streator Bulldogs, they finally broke out. Paced by two goals from freshman Amanda Grant, the Redskins earned a championship berth with a 5-1 win over the Bulldogs at home on Tuesday night.
The Redskins will certainly take the win, as it pits them against the winner of the Ottawa versus Yorkville semifinal for a shot at a regional championship. However, Morris head coach Kristen Porter still feels like there is room for improvement heading into Friday’s matchup.
“The last three games we played some really top-notch teams, but we were not able to score any goals,” she said. “The idea was to get Grant and (Emily) Burling the ball up top and we had so many opportunities… so many missed opportunities. We probably could have had 15 goals tonight, and I could tell the girls were a little upset with themselves right now. A lot of them were shots that were one-on-one with the goalie.”
Despite missing a few early opportunities, Morris was able to strike first when Grant put one home from point-blank range after a nifty move to clear a defender. Less than two minutes later, Emily Burling added a goal of her own to give Morris the 2-0 lead with 30:30 to play in the first half.
“I thought we played very well, but I still think we should have finished more,” Grant said of the offensive output. “All in all, I think we played pretty well today, though.”
Meanwhile, Streator was able to seize a little bit of momentum when senior forward Hannah Bressner scored on a breakaway goal with 18:38 remaining. The goal would cut Morris’ lead to 2-1, but that would be as close as the Bulldogs would get.
With the heat bearing down, it appeared as if Streator seized a bit of momentum late in the half. The Bulldogs controlled possession and ripped off three shots on goal in three minutes, but each shot was turned away by senior keeper Stephenie Wiekert. Then Morris was able to take back the momentum and a Sam Cherrone goal with 2:08 left gave Morris a 3-1 lead at half.
Wiekert would allow just the one goal on the evening and turned away six Streator shots unofficially. As the lone senior, the win on her home field took on a special meaning.
“I felt really good out there,” Wiekert said. “This (win) meant everything. I wasn’t ready for our season to end tonight, and neither was the team and we showed it.”
In the second half, it was obvious that the 90-degree weather had taken its toll on both teams as the pace of play seemed to slow up. However, Morris was able to pad its lead when Grant’s second goal put them ahead 4-1. Freshman midfielder Emma Dingbaum would tack on Morris’ fifth and final goal of the game with 11:05 remaining.
The win was certainly a big one for the Lady Redskins, but the group has bigger things in mind with Friday’s regional championship game just around the corner on their home field.
“It would be amazing (to win a regional title),” Wiekert said. “That’s never been done by the girls since I’ve been here. The boys have three now, but we don’t have any and we want to show them that we can do it, too.”