MORRIS – From the start of Saturday’s Class 2A Morris Girls Soccer Regional championship game, Morris had the upper hand. Energy seemed to exude from the Redskin players. Morris beat Yorkville to the ball on almost every occasion, 50/50 balls went Morris’ way and, with just less than five minutes off the clock, Morris had the lead.
That’s because junior quad-captain Katherine Gallick found herself alone with the ball, heading toward the Yorkville goal. The Foxes’ keeper, Mackenzie Lee, crept farther and farther away from the goal, trying to cut the space between her and Gallick and force her to give up the ball or shoot too soon.
Gallick, however, out-foxed the Fox and kicked it over her head. The ball bounced, then rolled into the net for a 1-0 Morris lead. It was the first of two goals for Gallick, and a lead the Redskins never relinquished en route to a 3-1 win and their second consecutive regional title.
“It definitely doesn’t get much better than this,” Gallick said. “Especially winning the regional title against Yorkville. They are a big rival for us. I had great assists from my teammates.
“Their goalie surprised me when she came out like that, but I just shot and followed through. After winning a regional last year, we really wanted to win another one this year. We tasted it last year, now we want to go further.”
The Redskins (8-7-1) will get that chance Tuesday, when they travel to Normal West to take on Mahomet-Seymour in the sectional semifinal at 4 p.m.
For much of the game, Morris controlled the ball. When Yorkville was able to clear it out of their zone and into Morris’, the Redskins defense was up to the challenge. Midway through the first half, Yorkville had a good scoring chance, but Morris keeper Maren Bashor made a diving stop and kept the Foxes at bay.
“Maren had a great game in goal,” Morris coach Kristen Porter said. “That diving save she made really pumped us up.”
Not long after that, Morris’ Cara Cummings, a senior quad-captain and one of the main players on the backline that kept Yorkville’s scoring opportunities to a minimun, had a direct kick from about 35 yards out. She got her full leg into it and it sailed just over the outstretched arms of Lee and into the goal for a 2-0 Morris lead.
“That was a perfect kick,” Porter said. “It went just over the goalies gloves. We didn’t know if it was going to go in or not, but it went right into the back of the net.
“Our plan was to come out here with a lot of energy, and the plan worked. I showed the girls a video up in my room before the game and told them that we weren’t going to let Yorkville end our season. That was in everyone’s head.”
Yorkville cut the lead in half with 4:29 to play in the first half on a goal by Jazmin Lazcano and the half ended with Morris ahead, 2-1.
With the second half nearly half over, Gallick took a pass from senior quad-captain Kirsten Galloway in the center of the field and knocked it paset Lee for the game’s final goal.
“Katherine scored a goal just like that the last time we played Yorkville,” Porter said. “That one really got us going for the rest of the game.”
The Redskins and Mahomet-Seymour have one common opponent this season, Herscher. Mahomet-Seymour beat Herscher, 2-1 and Morris battled them to a 2-2 tie.
“We have two straight regionals now, and we want to take that next step,” Porter said. “It looks like we are pretty evenly matched with Mahomet-Seymour, and it may come down to who wants it more. We are finally healthy and coming together.”