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Girls Soccer: Joliet Catholic bows to Benet

Updated: April 16, 2014 10:17PM



Benet’s defense was so decimated by injuries last year that by the end of the season the Redwings had lost all four starters.

But the Redwings are healthy now and their back line has been a brick wall.

After giving up two goals in a season-opening 4-2 win over York, Benet has posted six consecutive shutouts, the latest coming Wednesday night in a 4-0 East Suburban Catholic Conference victory over Joliet Catholic at Joliet Memorial Stadium.

“If you look at (Wednesday), the defense was so solid we left nothing behind us,” Benet midfielder Michelle Morefield said. “In the second half I don’t think they got a ball behind us. (The defenders) just keep everything in front of them.

“They’re able to possess it and play to our feet in the midfield which is huge as well. They’re not just kicking it up the field making it tough on us.”

Instead, the back line, led by center fullbacks Emily Curtis and Rachel Bernicky, made it tough for Joliet Catholic (3-4, 0-2) to find any openings at all.

The Angels took the first shot of the game, a 20-yarder by Andriana Acosta, and the Redwings (6-0-1, 3-0-1) had all of the remaining 28 shots.

That was merely a continuation of a pattern that has seen Benet goalies Christina Stopka and Emma Hlavin get through matches with little to do. Stopka made just one save in this match.

“This year we switched to a flat-back four defense, which I think has helped us a lot because it allows our outside defenders to get up and attack and control the possession,” Curtis said. “Especially in the second half I was really happy with our amount of possession. Even if we didn’t finish we possessed almost the whole half.”

The Redwings finished twice in the first half despite going against an intense wind. Loretta Elder gave Benet a 1-0 lead when she fired a 20-yard shot over the head of Joliet Catholic goalkeeper Lena Rodriguez at the 31:10 mark and fellow junior Kate Hennessy made it 2-0 when she volleyed home a long cross from Elena McCarthy with 2:27 left in the half.

Rodriguez and backup Grace Whalen, who took over at intermission, combined to make 14 saves to keep the Angels in it, but Morefield blasted a 22-yard shot into the upper right corner with 22:30 to go to give the Redwings some breathing room. McCarthy finished the scoring with a wind-aided cross that sneaked inside the left post with 1:35 remaining.

“Our finishing wasn’t as up to par as we would like it to be, but it’s been two games in a row now with tough wind conditions and we just wanted to settle the game down,” Morefield said. “We came out a little crazy in the beginning and then we just had to keep our composure near the end.”

The match was a good measuring stick for Joliet Catholic, which has 12 freshmen and five sophomores on its 23-player roster.

“You’ve got to give credit to Benet,” Joliet Catholic coach Oscar Valdez said. “They came out to play. They’re one of the top teams in the conference and they have a lot of seniors.

“We played really hard. We’re still not there as a team because we’re so young, but (Benet) coach (Bob Gros)said to me, ‘Next year you’ll be amazing having all these freshmen.’ ”



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