Even in the face of a ferocious cross wind, Sophie Pohl was calm and relaxed.
“The ball kept rolling forward and I was not going to shoot until it was set,” the St. Charles North forward said.
Her goal on a free kick from 26 yards out in the 11th minute provided the early psychological boost the No. 11 North Stars rode to the 2-0 victory Saturday over Hinsdale South in the first round of the PepsiCo Showdown at Schaumburg’s Olympic Park.
Pohl also recorded an assist as the North Stars (6-1) recorded their sixth consecutive victory — all by shutout.
The North Stars, seeded 10th, advanced to Tuesday’s second-round game against Hersey in Arlington Heights.
“We have very high expectations,” said Pohl, the Toledo recruit who scored her fifth goal of the year by negotiating the wind perfectly on her kick from the left side.
The early goal was crucial in establishing the mental edge. Hinsdale South (5-3) twice nearly recorded the equalizer as Mary Claire Ladd hit the post and freshman forward Cali Vanderplow had a ball smack off the crossbar.
The North Stars realized they were playing with a narrow margin of comfort. Less than two minutes into the second half, Pohl caught a through-ball and attacked the right flank of the Hornets’ defense.
Sophomore midfielder Morgan Rerko finished Pohl’s pass for the 2-0 advantage.
“We were not comfortable only having the 1-0 lead at halftime,” Rerko said. “We got the early goal there and that got our energy up. There was some great passing there, especially the ball by Sophie.”
It was Rerko’s first goal of the year and Pohl’s seventh assist. Junior goalkeeper Shelby Stitz did the rest, making a spectacular leaping tip that deprived the Hornets of their best scoring opportunity in the second half.
St. Charles North has been razor sharp since a season-opening 2-1 loss to Conant in March.
“That was the first time this year we all got to play with each other outside,” Pohl said. “We were rotating some new girls and our chemistry was not quite there. Now we are getting better with every game.”