A few games from this season stick out as head-scratchers in the mind of Hinckley-Big Rock girls soccer coach Paul Taeuber, including a loss to Timothy Christian early in the season.
While the Royals won’t get a rematch with the Trojans in the sectional semifinal, they’ll get the next best thing – the chance to beat Immaculate Conception, the team that took down Timothy Christian in the regional final.
“We wanted to play [Timothy Christian] to prove that [the early-season loss] was a fluke,” Taeuber said. “I don’t think it’s going to matter … At this point in the season, you have to be ready because you’re going to meet quality opponents.”
H-BR has been a difficult team to pin down all season.
The Royals beat top-seeded Aurora Central Catholic, 8-1, in the regional final, and they showed they’re capable of being the top Class 1A team in the area by beating Indian Creek and Hiawatha. But they’ve also lost a few big matches, including a 7-0 blowout loss at the hands of Class 2A Kaneland.
While it stung at the time, that loss to the Knights may actually help the Royals if they’re able to make a deep run into the playoffs.
“We don’t always get to play that kind of competition,” Taeuber said. “There’s only a few teams in Class 1A that can really play that style. When we played Kaneland, we said, ‘It’s a measuring stick first, and it’s also learning and getting more exposure on how the game, I think at least possession-wise, is meant to be played’ ...You’ve got to see those kinds of movements and motions, because we can only replicate that so much.”
The Royals look like they’re peaking at the right time after winning their two regional games by a combined score of 16-1, but they’ll face a stiff test in Immaculate Conception today. If the Royals can shut down two key offensive players, Taeuber thinks his team could be on its way to the sectional final.
“The chances up front will come because we’re balanced,” Taeuber said. “If we can remain physical, if we can stay in front of and contain two of their players, we’ll be alright.”
Indian Creek was able to squeak out a 1-0 victory over Genoa-Kingston in the regional final, but coach Luke Anderson said they weren’t able to control their normal share of possession.
Part of the struggles in the midfield were a result of Emily Schilling’s absence. The freshman was busy running in the sectional track meet, where she qualified for the state meet in the 800 and 1,600 meters. WIth Schilling back, Anderson thinks the Timberwolves will be able to hold the ball much more against Stillman Valley on Wednesday.
“With [Schilling] coming back and joining our team for Wednesday, I feel confident,” Anderson said.
The T’wolves have had several freshmen step up throughout the season, including goalkeeper Josie Diehl, who made a few huge saves in the regional final. Anderson said the youngsters’ experience in volleyball and basketball prepared them for this postseason run.
“They’re just athletic girls,” Anderson said. “Early in the season, I wasn’t sure how some of them would do stepping into high school soccer with upperclassmen, but now at the end of the season, everything’s really starting to mesh.”