Buffalo Grove is getting everybody’s best shot this season, which isn’t surprising after the Bison made a run to the state semifinals in 2013.
They received their biggest test yet on Thursday but managed to stay unbeaten by squeaking past host Metea Valley 2-1 in double overtime in a PepsiCo Showdown quarterfinal in Aurora.
Top-ranked and top-seeded Buffalo Grove (13-0) will play Lyons or Glenbrook South in Saturday’s semifinals at Olympic Park in Schaumburg.
“It is definitely more difficult than last year,” Buffalo Grove senior Colleen Zickert said. “You have to go out expecting everyone to just try to beat you up.”
Ninth-seeded Metea Valley nearly did. The Mustangs (6-2-1) went up 1-0 just four minutes into the match when senior Jenna Kentgen scored on a breakaway and they had the better of the play for long stretches.
But the Zickert sisters, as they have done so many times in the past two seasons, came to the rescue for the Bison.
Kelli Zickert tallied the equalizer at the 21:44 mark of the first half when she fired a 30-yard shot over the head of Mustangs goalie Chauntelle Johnson.
Colleen Zickert won it when she received a pass from her sister outside the top right corner of the Metea box and lofted a 20-yard shot just inside the far post 90 seconds into the second overtime.
Johnson had eight saves, including a tough diving stop on Kelli Zickert in the first half, but the Bison knew to try to take advantage of her relative lack of height.
“I just kind of put it on frame,” Colleen Zickert said of her goal. “I saw my teammates running in so they could score if they needed to, but we definitely talked before the game about going high [with their shots].”
The ending left the Bison feeling more relieved than ecstatic.
“This is our sixth game in seven days and to come out with this win, I’m just very proud of this group,” Buffalo Grove coach Pat Dudle said. “We watched [the Mustangs] on Saturday and we knew that they are just a fantastic team. It was a great high school soccer match and we’re fortunate to come away with the win.”
Dudle was right about that. The Mustangs were outshot 15-9 but had more scoring chances, including several dangerous crosses that just missed feet in the crease during regulation.
Then in the first overtime, Metea had three golden opportunities. Buffalo Grove goalkeeper Sarah O’Connor dove to save a Madie Sandberg shot around the right post with 4:10 remaining and then charged off her line to stop a point-blank attempt from Tyler Proszowski, who had run onto a nifty pass from Kentgen, with 1:40 left.
O’Connor gave up a rebound on that play and Sandberg ran onto the ball and appeared to have an open net for the win, but defender Elizabeth Chan came out of nowhere to block the shot.
“They were very aggressive and fast in the middle,” Colleen Zickert said. “I think we had a little trouble adjusting to that because we haven’t played anyone like that so far.”
“It was a fun game and we played well,” Metea Valley coach Pat Feulner said. “We wanted to see tonight if we match up and I think the girls showed that they can play with anybody, so we’ll take it from here and continue to get better.”