NORMAL—There was the shot that sailed just inches over the crossbar and the one robbed by the opposing goalkeeper. Three free kicks from striking distance went for naught, as did four corner kicks.
In the end, all Lemont could do Tuesday night was look back with regret at all the missed chances as the Indians fell 2-0 to the host Wildcats in a Class 2A Normal West Supersectional.
“We had a lot of chances,” Lemont’s Kim Jerantowski said. “I had a couple that I missed in the beginning. I think we got through the playoffs by scoring first and scoring early and we weren’t able to do that (Tuesday). That hurt us.
“We’re going to look back and be proud of this season. I just wish we could play this game over.”
Lemont, which fell one win short of its third trip to state in four years, finished 20-3-2. Normal West (26-1) avenged a 3-1 loss to Lemont in the same round last season and advanced to take on Hinsdale South in Friday’s state semifinals in Naperville.
The Indians got off to a terrific start, spending nearly the entirety of the first 20 minutes on the attack, but had nothing to show for it.
Jerantowski fired just over the crossbar on a free kick from just outside the box in the ninth minute. Joy Drassler shot high on another good chance.
Lemont found itself down a goal in the 22nd minute when Normal West struck on a counter attack, Keely Theobald playing Kate Lorenz’ cross off her chest down to her feet and finishing with a smooth strike.
“That was their only chance of the half,” Lemont coach Rick Prangen said. “It was a really nice finish and I give them credit. Both goals were against the run of play. 70 percent of the game was probably played on our (offensive) end. That’s tough.”
After Normal West goalie Natalie Freeman made a diving save on Jerantowski’s free kick early in the second half, the Wildcats delivered the backbreaker when Lemont keeper Kelly Fritz (4 saves) was called for a foul in the box.
Carolyn Peters converted the penalty kick to make it 2-0 with 29:02 to go.
Freeman (3 saves) kept the shutout intact to wrap up West’s first state berth since 2008.
“We knew if we stopped (Jerantowski) and defended set pieces well, we’d be OK,” Normal West coach Val Walker said. “The girls did a great job.”
The loss ends the high-school careers of Jerantowski and Fritz, four-year varsity starters who will continue their careers at Northwestern and UIC, respectively.
“It was tough driving two hours and playing here,” Prangen said. “It’s odd that (Normal West) gets to host a sectional and a super. I don’t think (IHSA administrator) Beth Sauser did us any favors.
“Still, I’m proud of these girls. Two state trips and one super in four years for our seniors is nothing to hang your head about.”