HINCKLEY – It was an unfortunate case of déjå vu for Hinckley-Big Rock girls soccer coach Paul Taeuber in Friday night's Class 1A H-BR Regional championship match against top-seeded Lisle.
Two years ago, the Lions walked off the Royals' pitch with a overtime win and the regional plaque. According to Taeuber, Friday's 2-1 loss to Lisle was similar, other than the fact it ended in regulation.
“Just like two years ago, same team, same place, same conditions, just not overtime this time,” Taeuber said with a bit of frustration in his voice. “We had numerous opportunities, we just weren't able to finish and that is the way it was two years ago, as well. It's like I told the girls after the game, you have to capitalize on opportunities and not make mistakes. We made two big mistakes tonight.”
Lisle (15-5-2), which had dropped a four-goal match to the third-seeded Royals during the regular season, grabbed the lead with 24 minutes and 12 seconds left in the first half when leading scorer Kelsey Kretman scored her 18th goal of the season.
H-BR nearly tied the match shortly there after, but senior Lauren Paver had a 15-yard strike from the right wing deflect off the post. The rebound found the foot of Hannah Mueller, but her attempt also narrowly missed.
“Two minutes after they scored, we had a rolling ball through the box that we just have to finish,” Taeuber said. “We were able to get the equalizer right before halftime though.”
The Royals (9-10-1) were looking for a spark to take them into the second half. The senior combination of Paver and Andrea Binkley worked the trick. Binkley corralled a errant pass near midfield, worked past a couple defenders to the top of the box, and then found a hustling Paver with a pass to the weak side. Paver struck the ball in rhythm, putting it low past a diving Lisle keeper to tie the match at 1.
“I could see the play developing and just kept running towards the weak-side post,” Paver said. “It was just a terrific pass from Andrea, it hit me right in stride. We haven't finished a lot of chances like that all year, so to do it in this game and to tie the game was great.”
The Lions scored what proved to be the match-winner just 25 seconds into the second half to the displeasure of Taeuber, but his club had a handful of chances to tie the score after that. Paver's shot off an indirect kick from senior Kim Weissinger at the 33:47 mark hit the post and the rebound shot from Jacqueline Madden sailed just over the crossbar.
The last really good H-BR chance saw Madden's short shot after a long run down the right side stopped short side.
“For them to come out and score – what 25 seconds in to the second half? – in my book that's inexcusable,” said Taeuber, whose club was outshot 9-4. “It's not about the number of scoring opportunities, but the amount of quality ones.”
Paver admitted this season was not what her or her teammates would have imagined overall, but she felt the team started to make it happen late in the season.
“I thought Tuesday's [regional semifinal] was our best this season and tonight, despite the outcome, was right up there as well,” Paver said. “We just didn't convert the chances we had.”