Mary Lardas’s goal gives Geneva tourney title

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It may have required waiting until the final seconds, and even if it wasn’t wrapped up with a beautiful bow, Geneva gave coach Megan Owens an early birthday present.

The Vikings held on for a stunning 1-0 victory Saturday over St. Charles East, host of the 25th annual Augsburg-Drach Invitational.

With the Vikings owning a three-point edge in the four-school round robin, the tourney trophy and medals were still at stake after both teams were 1-0-1 after the initial rounds.

Geneva (5-1-1) won the coin toss and opted to play with a gusty wind that made any ball in the air an adventure.

With 12:43 left in the first half, Courtney Lardas took a shot from the right wing that Saints goalkeeper Kendra Sheehan deflected off to the left. Mary Lardas pounced on the rebound for her sixth goal of the season.

“I just wanted to make sure I got the ball under control for a good, hard sure shot,” Lardas said. “It felt good off my foot and seeing in the back of the net was the best feeling.”

Although the wind gusts decreased, the majority of the second half was spent in the Geneva half of the field as the Saints (4-1-1) pushed for an equalizer.

“There was one really scary moment when I just saw the ball at the last second and got in front of it, but the whole second half required staying focused on the ball,” Geneva goalkeeper Sam Hauser said.

“We knew their having the wind for the second half would give them a lot more opportunities so we had to make some defensive adjustments,” said Owens, noting it was the first time Geneva won the Augsburg-Drach in her five-year tenure.

It was a disappointing first loss of the year for East coach Paul Jennison only in terms of the scoreboard. The Saints were the tourney’s defending champion.

“From possession to playing the game the way it’s meant to be played, we were on another level,” Jennison said. “ With one exception in the first half, one breakdown, we played a flawless first half.

“I’m proud of the way we played and am convinced going forward we’ll get better results. We find a few more final connections and I still believe we should have won all three games.”

The Saints defeated Schaumburg 2-1 and battled Naperville Central to a 0-0 draw earlier in the week, while Geneva edged Schaumburg 1-0 and posted a 1-1 tie with Central.

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