ROMEOVILLE – If less is more, then two Alessios must be the most.
In the first half of the Class 3A Lewis University Supersectional, that was more than enough for the Minooka girls soccer team.
With senior goalkeeper Bella Alessio keeping Naperville North off the scoreboard and a goal from junior midfielder Mia Alessio at the 18:39 mark, the Indians took a 1-0 lead into halftime and were 40 minutes from the first state berth in school history.
Unfortunately for Minooka, Naperville North tied it less than a minute into the second half on a goal by Katie Murphy and then took a 2-1 lead with less than 21 minutes remaining on a goal by Emily Dulik.
From there on, the Huskies played a very effective game of keep-away and escaped with a 2-1 win and the state berth.
Minooka ended the season with a 15-9-2 record and the furthest advancement through the state series in school history, which included the first
sectional championship for the program.
“When you start the season 3-7-2 and end it walking off the field one goal away from making it to state, something special happened,” Minooka coach Chris Brolley said. “This is a very special group of girls. The senior class is definitely going to be missed.”
Brolley was referring to defenders Hailey Hoge, Madeline Lant, and Peyton Kellinger, midfielders Kaleigh Murphy, Cassady Cundari, and Kathryn Drey, forward Brooke Brodzinski and goalkeeper Bella Alessio.
All played a part in keeping a strong Naperville North team off the board in the first half, especially Bella Alessio, who finished the game with at least a dozen saves and used her strong leg as an offensive weapon, often booting the ball past midfield to give the Minooka offense a jump start.
“Bella has just been amazing,” Brolley said, noting that the two goals that Naperville North scored brought the total that Minooka allowed in its final 15 games to four. “She really turned it on the last half of the season and became a very vocal leader as well as an outstanding goalie.”
Neither team threatened much early in the game, although most of it was played in Minooka’s end.
The Minooka defense, combined with Alessio’s play, kept the Huskies off the board until Mia Alessio scored in the first half to give the Indians a lead.
“We were really excited to have the lead at halftime,” Bella Alessio said. “We wanted to focus on staying aggressive, but they [Naperville North] attacked really well in the second half. It normally takes us a while to settle in, and that’s what happened. We got the goal, but they got a couple in the second half.
“This is the furthest a Minooka team has ever gone, and it was further than anyone expected us to go, so it was a good season. We would have liked to make it to state, but getting this far felt pretty good.”
Murphy scored her goal at the
39:11 mark of the second half, and Dulik scored the eventual game-winner with 20:58 left on the clock.
“We knew that with us only having two subs coming in and out that they would keep attacking,” Alessio said. “That’s what they did.”
Indeed, Alessio made the majority of her saves in the second half to prevent the score from becoming more one-sided.
“Our girls were right in it the whole way,” Brolley said. “To be one goal from state says a lot about this team.
I can’t say enough about how special this team was.”