Having already beaten Metea Valley twice this season, Neuqua Valley had a clear mission going into the third meeting Thursday at the Metea Valley Sectional quarterfinals.
The Wildcats wanted to pick up that third win against the Mustangs to set up a shot in Friday’s semifinals against Naperville Central, a team that beat Neuqua three times this season.
Neuqua wasted little time taking care of that. The Wildcats didn’t allow a goal until the fourth quarter, cruising to an 11-3 win.
They will face off against Naperville Central, a 15-2 winner over Waubonsie Valley.
“That’s all we wanted to do, beat Metea to get to Central,” Neuqua junior Morgan Miller said. “I think we have a lot of confidence going up against them.”
Miller, the team’s leading scorer this season, was a big reason why the Wildcats (11-15) were able to come out so strong against Metea (5-17). She scored seven goals in the first three quarters, helping Neuqua take an 11-0 lead.
“I think the girls are really clicking,” Neuqua coach Lucy Tiffin said. “My starters are communicating the way that they should be. We’ll need that tomorrow.”
Metea’s roster is full of mostly freshmen and sophomores, so getting a chance to experience a game like this in its own pool was something that coach Wyatt Jansen hopes will carry over to next season.
“I just think it’s experience,” Jansen said. “We have such a young team, but that put us in a position to play a lot of people and get them good experience.
I was happy to see that. The girls are hungrier and hungrier the more of these games they play. I know that they’re going to be fighting all summer and ready to go for next year.”
Lauren Backe scored two goals for Neuqua in the win. Goalie Issi French didn’t allow a goal in her three quarters of action, her first shutout of the season.
Next up is Central, a team that has vexed the Wildcats all season. The first game of the year, Neuqua nearly beat the Redhawks. The second time, Tiffin said Central “came for blood.” Just last week, Central beat Neuqua by only a four-goal spread.
“We’re looking forward to tomorrow,” Tiffin said. “The girls are confident.”