LISLE – Neither junior Andrea Binkley nor coach Paul Taeuber could put their finger on why Hinckley-Big Rock’s girls soccer team didn’t play up to its potential Tuesday night.
But, ultimately, Immaculate Conception took advantage in the Class A Lisle Sectional semifinal, winning 2-0 at Benedictine University.
“The loss doesn’t hurt as much as knowing we didn’t play like we were capable of,” Binkley said. “They definitely went to the ball harder than we did; they were controlling it more than we did.”
Both teams largely felt each other out in the first 20 minutes. Possession primarily was held in the middle third of the field and neither squad could muster many viable scoring chances.
H-BR (12-7-2) was able to feed a couple early crosses into the penalty box, but none connected on the other end. In the 28th minute, Binkley’s free kick from 20 yards cleared the Immaculate Conception wall, but was picked up on a short hop by the keeper.
“We had the opportunities in the first half, but we felt a step slow the entire night,” Taeuber said. “It’s hard to determine all the time when you enter certain games how they react and how they react differently. I felt like we were flustered.”
Immaculate Conception finally broke through with less than five minutes to go in the half when KC Morris took a free kick from 25 yards out and bent a right-footed shot over the H-BR wall and past goalie Jordan Bullard.
Bullard was tested frequently in the second 40 minutes, often coming off her line to pick off crosses and long passes, while H-BR couldn’t generate many scoring chances through the first 30 minutes of the first half. Immaculate Conception dropped five players back, making it difficult for H-BR to counterattack.
Immaculate Conception’s Angela Toritto sealed the win with a goal off a set play in the 31st minute.
The loss ended a season in which H-BR won the school’s first regional championship since 2010 and only the third in school history. The Royals will return 10 if their 11 starters from Tuesday’s sectional semifinal, including seven underclassmen.
“It’s exciting, we’ve got our strong front coming back. We have our good defense coming back, too,” Binkley said. “We’re losing a couple seniors and that will take a toll on our defense, but I’m sure we can fill the spot and come back stronger.”