Final: Normal West 5, Washington 0
Summary: The Washington girls soccer team played their hardest, but fell to favored Normal West 5-0 in its own IHSA Class 2A Regional championship Friday night. The Wildcats scored twice in the first half to take a 2-0 lead. Panthers goal keeper Elizabeth Foster did her best to keep Washington in the game with a few diving saves in the half.
“We stuck it out for a little while, so I’m proud of what they did,” Washington head coach William Hudson said. “Liz has done a great job all season and being a shot stopper. It’s nice to have a five feet, 10 inches goal keeper in goal, you don’t find that very often in the women’s game so to have someone that tall and that big and dominant in the goal is definitely a benefit. We’ll miss her next year.”
Normal West shifted into a higher gear in the second half, scoring three goals in the 37th, 60th and 65th minutes of the game. Kate Lorenz scored two of the three goals of the half for the Wildcats. With the win, Normal West will play the winner of the Charleston Regional next Wednesday at Eastside Centre in East Peoria.
Seniors: Washington will lose five senior players from this years squad, including Eastern Illinois recruit Hannah Heinz, Foster, Rebekah Johnson, Dilyara Coovert and Monica Dentino. Hudson has promise for the future of the program and believes the Panthers could potentially return to the regional championship next season.
“We thank them,” Hudson said. “Its been four years and they’ve put in the blood, sweat and tears and they’ve done a really good job and they’ve been a really great part of the program. I think their leadership helped pull the rest of our team up so we got a really good program with freshman and sophomores. Having that senior leadership is always important. I think they helped the rest of our team grow and that’s what you want out of your seniors. It’s certainly something we liked as a coaching staff.”
Heinz: The three-sport athlete hopes to adjust fast to the college game in the fall in Charleston. Hudson said losing her will be a big blow to next year’s team.
“Losing Hannah Heinz is going to be a big part of our offense for sure,” Hudson said. “There’s lots of components that are gaining when you have a player whose going to play D-1. It’s going to make a huge impact.”
Up and coming: Next season’s Washington team will feature 10 seniors and three juniors, including long-range scorer Macy Sophanavong.
“Watching the way that they play in the system that they played in this year, I think those players who are going to move into seniors and juniors have really gained a lot of experience and I think next year’s team is going to be just as good as well.”
Quote: “I think we played really well,” Hudson said. “West is a quality team. They have very few flaws and they’re well coached, so I think over the last two weeks, we played a lot better but certainly, West is a talented team.”