Immaculate Conception junior Gretchen Vitek has played all season in the shadow of her older sister, Grace, a Nebraska recruit.
But on Wednesday it was her turn to shine.
Gretchen Vitek and junior Hannah Hartnett each recorded their first career hat tricks as the Knights routed Instituto 13-0 in a Class 1A Lisle Sectional semifinal at Wilde Field.
IC (15-5-1) will take on Lisle (16-5-2) in Friday’s sectional championship game.
“It was pretty cool to have the spotlight for once,” Gretchen Vitek said. “It’s really cool to be able to play with my sister.
“She’s a really good player compared to me and it’s fun to share all these wins with her.”
The Viteks shared plenty in this match. Grace Vitek had a goal and five assists, one of which came on Gretchen’s second goal and gave the Knights a 6-0 lead with 11:32 left in the first half.
Hartnett completed her hat trick 43 seconds later and Gretchen Vitek tallied her third goal just 41 seconds after that.
Sophomore Courtney McCarthy opened the scoring just 56 seconds into the match when she lofted a 20-yard shot over the head of charging Instituto goalie Valeria Barcenas, who was under constant bombardment as the Knights repeatedly ran through the defense.
IC did so even though coach Tod Privett played several players out of position. Hartnett and Gretchen Vitek were two of the beneficiaries of the lineup changes.
“We’re pretty excited that we’re moving on to the sectional final for the second year in a row,” Hartnett said. “So as a team we’re pretty pumped and I think we’re just both happy that we could do it for our team and our coach.”
Dominique Lotz and Kaitlyn Grady both had a goal and two assists and Tessa Langan added a goal and assist for the Knights. Erin Maloney and Bailey McCann, who started the game in goal, also scored and Tess Reardon and Demitra Delfiacco had assists for IC.
“I think it goes to show it’s not even the goals, just how well you work as a team and throughout the entire season we’ve just progressed dramatically,” Hartnett said. We lost a couple key players from last year but we have a lot of the same players and we’ve been working really hard, so it’s a nice payoff.”
Instituto (9-2), a second-year program, already had seen its payoff in beating Bronzeville and Lindblom en route to its first regional championship.
“They accomplished a lot because we actually got a lot more practice,” Instituto coach Yvette Ramirez said. “Before we would practice maybe Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays but now we’re doing it every day and we’ve been conditioning since October, so that was something that kept them going.”
IC hopes to keep going against a Lisle team that has a 10-game unbeaten streak.
“It will be a good match,” Hartnett said. “I think we’re pretty evenly matched teams. It will come down to technicality.”