Carmel controls its own destiny in the race for the East Suburban Catholic Conference championship, and the Corsairs intend to keep it that way.

With wins over traditional rivals St. Viator, Benet and Nazareth, the main danger for the Corsairs would seem to be complacency.

“We talked about that a lot,” Carmel coach John Halloran said. “We were a bit unfocused against Joliet (Catholic) last week. We were 0-0 at the half, which is a little frustrating. So we need to do a better job of (focusing).”

Carmel did exactly that Wednesday, knocking off host Providence 5-1 in New Lenox. After each side scored in the first three minutes, the Corsairs (12-1, 6-0) settled down and controlled the rest of the match.

Bri Carlson gave the Corsairs a 1-0 lead when she booted home a cross from Annie DiVenere just 95 seconds into the game. Providence (6-10, 2-5) struck back 30 seconds later when Jamie Noonan took a lead pass from Maggie Corso and scored on a breakaway.

The Corsairs responded when Sadie Jung ran to a high bouncing ball from Kayla Handel and knocked it over the head of onrushing Celtics goalie Katie Rash with 29:43 left in the first half.

Carlson then made it 3-1 with her second goal of the season, beating Rash from a sharp angle to complete a partial breakaway at the 6:57 mark. Erin Johnston got the assist.

“They are a quality team,” Providence coach Dan Potempa said of Carmel. “Every year we know we have to play our best against teams like this and we did play our best.

“We made them realize, wait a minute, this team’s not going to lay down, it’s going to fight. We made them play their best and they did.”

The Celtics had two chances to cut the gap to one. Kyleigh Maday’s 32-yard free kick bounced off the top of the crossbar with 4:40 to go in the half, and Hannah Nichols fired a 15-yard shot just wide of the left post with 30:10 left in the second half.

Meegan Johnston put the game away two minutes later with a heads-up play. The Corsairs were awarded a free kick on the left wing and Johnston, an Illinois recruit, took the 28-yard shot before the Celtics could set up the wall and it sailed into the upper right corner.

“She saw the keeper go over to set the wall and she said, ‘What the heck,’ ” Halloran said. “We talked about it in the postgame because I harp on them a lot on dead balls to make sure it doesn’t happen to us, and I said that’s why we work so much on that. If you’ve got somebody on the ball that’s sharp, take a freebie.”

“I just asked the ref, ‘Is it direct?’ ” Johnston said. “He said ‘Yes,’ and I noticed that nobody was paying attention to me, nobody was ready so I was like, I’m going to take it.”