TISKILWA — The Princeton Tigresses made quick work of the DePue Little Giants in the semifinal game at the Tiskilwa soccer pitch on Wednesday night advancing to the regional final on Friday.
The win was not unexpected, but the Tigresses came out and attacked early and often as they cruised to a 15-0 victory.
Senior forward Michelle Kelly, as she has done often this year, got the scoring started with an unassisted goal just into the fourth minute of the game.
Sophomore Eliza Young followed that up with a “three minute hat trick,” scoring in the sixth minute (assist by Keyana Altizer), eighth minute (assist Elizabeth Stites) and ninth minute (assist Sarah Murray).
“I haven’t scored that quickly since PYSL,” Young said of her Princeton Youth Soccer League days. “I was able to manipulate the ball around the defenders and there were a lot of open lanes. Liz (Stites) really had a nice cross.”
The rout was on at that point with the Tigresses pouring in nine more goals before the conclusion of the half, including consecutive goals by freshman Michaela Mall, and juniors Kim Schlesinger and Taylor Tiemann.
The second half found the Tigresses playing possession, limiting themselves to two goals.
The final goal of the game was scored by senior Lindsay Hartwig. The back-up goalie for the last three seasons, Hartwig has not had many opportunities to see game action.
“It was really fun,” said Hartwig. “From the beginning of the second half, we were trying to get everyone a goal who hadn’t had a goal. It was fun because people were cheering for me from the benches and everyone was feeding me.”
Hartwig has rarely played the field since she entered high school and didn’t even do so that much in her final years for the park district. The goal was a fitting reward for someone whose contributions to the team have gone unnoticed by the public for so long.
“It’s not necessarily a new experience,” said Hartwig, “but it’s newish.”
Though the Tigresses were flying high after this one, their next challenge is the one they’ve been anticipating – a regional final match up against Rock Island Alleman, the team which eliminated them last year and beat them 6-1 earlier this year.
For results of that match, visit www.bcrnews.com/sports and Tuesday’s BCR.
One of their main challenges against Alleman was to push the ball and score. Schlesinger, who scored her two goals within about 50 seconds, says the team had guarded confidence going into the championship.
“The 4-3-3 lineup – 3 forwards plus an attacking center mid – helps (the scoring) a lot,” she said. “It creates extra space for Eliza and Michelle and Keyanna to run on (goal) and for us to run in on crosses and stuff.”
Not only will the Tigresses need to score against Alleman, they will need to effectively possess the ball, keeping it away from the speedy and talented forwards and outside midfielders of the Pioneers.
“Coach Gray was saying that it is the same movements and same possessions (as we did in the second half),” Schlesinger said, “just a lot faster against a better team. So if we can think about it that way we can pick up the pace against Alleman.
“We all really want to beat Alleman,” she added. “We’ve come a long way. We feel as if it’s possible. It depends on how we feel on Friday and how we come out.”
For coach Ed Young, it is Friday’s match that will define the entire season.
“I feel like we have a tough challenge in front of us,” he said, “but we have been preparing for this game all year. Our whole season has been preparing to get to this match and to play Alleman the best that our system allows us to.”
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