Failing to score in the first half despite playing with the wind seemed to present Hersey with an omen. Instead the Huskies elevated their game by playing to its strengths and finding a way to break through.
Junior forward Sara Magnuson drilled a ball from the right wing from 22 yards out in the 58th minute that catapulted the No. 16 Huskies past Lincoln-Way North 1-0 in first-round play of the PepsiCo Showdown at Olympic Park in Schaumburg on Saturday.
Magnuson controlled a through ball from star forward Lauren Gierman and sliced it past Phoenix keeper Bethany Dombkowski for the game-winner. It marked her first goal of the year.
“Lauren made a great run and made a beautiful pass and I saw the shot was there,” Magnuson said. “We were a little upset that we didn’t score in the first half, when we had the wind and we knew we had to come out and play more of a passing style, but keeping the ball more on the ground.”
All-area keeper Morgan Harris registered five saves, including diving recoveries in each half, to preserve the victory for the Huskies (8-2).
The Phoenix (8-2) suffered their second 1-0 loss in a week to a ranked team. Lyons defeated Lincoln-Way North a week ago.
“I told the girls at halftime they should be thrilled at how we played in the first half in not allowing a goal,” Lincoln-Way North coach Michael Murphy said. “We are very young, with three freshmen starters and four sophomores that either start or are in the rotation.”
Hersey dominated possession time though proved unable to put together a pure scoring sequence. Even Gierman lost control of a breakaway in the first half and shot wide left of the goal.
The baby-bang play with Magnuson reflected greater patience, Hersey coach Darren Llewellyn said. “We kicked the ball around too much in the first half, but in the second half allowed plays to develop and we were able to keep the ball the middle of the field, where we could attack, keep the ball on their side and get into that (final) scoring third.”
The Phoenix threw a couple of scares at the Huskies off of throw ins, though Harris alertly smothered one ball and a Hersey defender cleared the second ball to thwart the chance at the equalizer.
Harris has posted seven shutouts and allowed just three goals in 10 games.