A hot and muggy afternoon on the Benet Academy girls soccer pitch as the Redwings welcome OPRF for a sectional semi final matchup. The Redwings defeated Glenbard East to win the regional while Oak Park River Forest took down Downers Grove North.
Benet already with a 1-0 lead after a Mariana Pinto goal in the first two minutes. But the Redwings will be challenged when starting goalie Shannon Clark has to leave the game with a leg injury. Freshman Ellie Hart thrown into the fire in the sectional semi finals.
And wouldn’t you know it, less than a minute after she enters the game, OPRF gets a shot on goal. Hart loses the ball for a moment before pouncing on the ball to keep the lead.
Redwings hope to add to the lead, a long cross to Jaimee Cibulka who gets a good look, but misses wide. The senior does not miss too many chances from that range.
Ten minutes left in the half, Mariana Pinto gets a steal and slides a pass ahead to Cibulka who is one on one with the Huskie goalie. What a helpless feeling that must be as the All State forward gets the goal and the Redwings lead 2-0.
Under two minutes before halftime OPRF needs a spark. A nice play from Kiki Leman to win the ball. She passes to Lily Clifford who finds the net with enough force to get the ball past Hart. The Huskies get a huge goal just before the break.
Earl in the second half, Pinto to Cibulka again. The captain fights through defense and unloads a shot, but a great play from OPRF goalie Jackie Bollinger to deflect the ball away.
A few seconds later, Cibulka with another chance, this time she hits the post! Bollinger falls trying to grab the ball, but the Huskie defenders do a great job walling up and preventing a clean shot attempt from Brooke Pullen and Annastacia Thiel. Still just a 2-1 game.
Midway through the half, Paige Neri gets a high bouncer and has a good look, but her shot slips just wide of the goal as Benet continues to put the pressure on.
OPRF with possession now, Kitana Watson gets a chance at the net, but Ellie Hart is ready for the save to preserve the one goal lead.
Just over ten minutes left, Cibulka drops a pass back to freshman Bailey Abbot. Her shot attempt is just out of Bollinger’s reach and finds the twine. Big time play for BA who now leads 3-1.
OPRF running out of time and needs goals, Katherine Hoffman is forced right by freshman defender Nora Hanson. Her shot attempt lands in the arms of Ellie Hart who secures the ball once again.
Benet putting the game away, this is just a brilliant individual play from Mariana Pinto. She fights through a defender, wins the race to the ball and puts the keeper on skates before tapping in her second goal. The Redwings advance to the 3A sectional championship with a 4-1 win and will host Lyons Township on Friday afternoon.