St. Charles North was hanging with Waubonsie Valley in Wednesday’s Upstate Eight Championship game until Kristen Dodson turned into the soccer version of Patrick Kane.
Dodson’s highlight reel goal with 19:14 remaining in the second half turned out to be the game-winner as the host Warriors extended their unbeaten streak to 20 games with a 2-1 victory in Aurora.
The decisive play began when defender Maddie Pokora made a steal in her own end and sent the ball to Dodson just shy of midfield.
Dodson quickly split two defenders into the center of the field and went on an electrifying 50-yard run, weaving her way through two more defenders before walking in on North Stars goalkeeper Shelby Stitz and beating her with a short shot to the corner netting.
It was the team-leading 18th goal for the Auburn-bound Dodson, who has notched 15 goals during the Warriors’ current 13-game win streak.
“I was just dribbling into my space and I was looking for someone to pass it to but everyone got caught offsides on the offsides trap,” Dodson said. “So I just went on and took it myself and shot it into the corner.”
Two minutes earlier, Dodson had made another great move to get by a defender in the box, but put her point-blank shot into the belly of Stitz, so she wasn’t about to make the same mistake twice.
“I got kind of mad because I meant to place it and it went right to the keeper,” Dodson said. “So I was like, ‘I need to finish this’ and actually redeem myself.”
Both sides had played well up until that point, though neither created many opportunities. The game was uneventful for the first 37 minutes before two long shots struck the underside of the crossbar.
The first, a 28-yard drive by St. Charles North’s Sophie Pohl, came down on the goal line and was grabbed by Waubonsie Valley keeper Emma Rigby with 2:40 left in the first half.
But Morgan Kemerling’s shot from similar distance caromed down just over the goal line to give the Warriors (17-1-3) a 1-0 lead just 1:27 before intermission.
“After they got that first shot that almost went in, it kind of opened our eyes that we needed to go harder to the ball and get more momentum and go forward and take lots of shots,” said Dodson, who assisted on Kemerling’s strike. “I think that was an eye-opener for us.”
Though the North Stars (14-4-2) were outshot 16-9, they got the equalizer at the 22:30 mark of the second half on a goal by Lizzie Parrilli.
Morgan Rerko dribbled the ball into traffic in the left side of the box and got the ball to Ashlyn Winter, who survived a challenge to knock the ball in front to Parrilli, who beat Rigby with a strong six-yard shot.
But Dodson’s goal came three minutes later and though Stitz made seven saves to keep her team in it, the Warriors controlled most of the action the rest of the way. It was the second year in a row they’ve knocked off the North Stars to win the UEC title.
“This game did not have an impact on postseason and that’s where our head is, so our whole focus was [to stay] injury-free and improve and I thought we created some great chances even with a couple starters sitting on the bench,” St. Charles North coach Ruth Vostal said. “So I was pleased with our effort.”