Girls Soccer: Lincoln-Way North, Shepard maintain conference supremacy
By Steve Millar For Sun-Times Media May 19, 2014 8:48PM
Glenbard East's Kelly Ravenscraft (10) and Lincoln-Way North's Rachel Pappas (20) fight for the ball in Bridgeview Saturday, March, 29, 2014. | Jim Boyce/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 23, 2014 2:21PM
The streaks still are alive for Lincoln-Way North and Shepard.
Each team won a thriller in its regular-season finale last week to clinch an outright conference title. It’s Lincoln-Way North’s fifth straight SouthWest Suburban Red crown and Shepard’s third straight in the South Suburban Red.
“This one was probably the most impressive one yet for our girls,” North coach Mike Murphy said. “We had nine seniors graduate last year, seven who played a ton. It tells you a little bit about the hard work our girls have put in.”
The Phoenix held on Wednesday for a 2-1 win over Lincoln-Way Central to complete a 6-0 jaunt through league play.
It’s an accomplishment that some of North’s veterans doubted was possible before the year.
“At the beginning of the season, some of our juniors and seniors were like, ‘We lost a lot, how good are going to be?’ ” Murphy said. “I told them that good programs just reload. The girls were able to come out and beat teams like Andrew and Lincoln-Way Central, we won the Windy City Ram Classic, and we have the best record we’ve had going into the playoffs.”
It all starts with defense for North, which has recorded 12 shutouts, led by goalie Bethany Dombkowski.
“I played ‘D’ in high school and a little bit in college and for me, defense is always the focal point,” Murphy said. “Bethany has been outstanding. We moved Lexi Cesario to the back and she’s been great and gave us a lot of leadership. Grace Sheetz and Ava Eggert have done a great job back there, too.”
Rachel Pappas has led the offense for the Phoenix, which is the top seed in the Class 3A Andrew Sectional and opens the playoffs Tuesday at home against Thornwood co-op.
Shepard, meanwhile, hung on to top T.F. United 3-2 in a shootout Wednesday to avoid sharing the Red title with Reavis.
The Astros finished 9-2 in conference play, the losses coming in crossovers against Blue foes Lemont and Tinley Park.
“It means a lot to us to win the conference title again,” said Shepard goalie Heather Banis, who shut out the Meteors in the shootout. “It’s been a goal for us all season.”
The Astros are the No. 5 seed in the Andrew Sectional and take on Eisenhower in Tuesday’s Lincoln-Way East Regional semifinals. The host Griffins are the No. 4 seed and likely would await in the regional final.
Shepard is in search of its first regional title.
“This year, we really want to do more than just win the conference,” Shepard’s Aubrey Quick said. “We want to win a regional and contend in the sectional.”