Girls Soccer: De La Salle tops Bremen for program’s first regional title
By Steve Millar
De La Salle coach Carlos Nunez has seen his teams come up a bit short in the postseason repeatedly over the years. The Meteors had never won a regional championship in girls soccer.
Until this year, that is.
“I’ve been in every single one that we’ve lost in,” Nunez said. “We’ve been disappointed. We’ve been treated unfairly and put in buzzsaws of regionals in the past. Teams I’ve thought might be able to do it, we’ve gotten really close and lost in the last few minutes. We’ve just never been able to climb to the top.
“With this group, I know we can push it even further.”
The Meteors cruised to a 4-0 win over eighth-seeded Bremen in the Class 2A De La Salle Regional championship game. Freshman Kennedi Carpenter, junior Joanna Mullen and senior Jazzlyne Orozco scored for the Meteors (19-3), who were also the beneficiary of an own goal from the Braves (5-12-2).
De La Salle moves on to the Kankakee Sectional and will take on fifth-seeded Oak Forest (8-9-4) in a sectional semifinal at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Last Saturday was a day worth celebrating as the Meteors made history.
“It’s incredible, really, because we worked so hard all season and for our hard work to pay off, it really means a lot to us,” Orozco said.
Orozco said it was hard to believe De La Salle had never won a regional before.
“To be honest, when I first heard that, it was quite surprising,” she said. “By the time I came into the program, things started to change and we started to win.”
Carpenter put the Meteors in front just over four minutes into the game, putting in a rebound after fellow freshman Julissa Zuniga ripped a shot off the crossbar.
“It was a good bounce,” Carpenter said. “Julissa hit it off the crossbar and I was just there to tap it in.”
The Meteors continued to attack and spent nearly the entire first half in their offensive end, but still led just 1-0 until Mullen struck 67 seconds before halftime to give her team a big lift.
After the ball was knocked around several times in a scramble on the Meteors’ offensive end, Mullen picked up the loose ball and fired a quick shot from 20 yards into the net to make it 2-0.
“I was doing it for the team,” Mullen said. “So many people want to score the goal and think of it like, ‘I want to get the glory.’ But I wanted to make the goal for my teammates. We work so hard. That goal was really powerful for everyone on the team.”
Orozco added a second-half goal off an assist from Azucena Diaz and the own goal made it 4-0.
Mullen, Mia Loza and Vicky Luna led the De La Salle defense in front of goalkeeper Emily Samuels, holding Bremen without a shot on goal.
The Meteors won without two of their top players, leading scorer Mia Ortega and Imani Coleman. The two sophomores were out with injuries and are questionable for the sectional.
“Mia Ortega always scores and Amani is a freaking baller who will get every single ball,” Mullen said. “So, without those people who really impact our play, we had to really step up.”
In another Class 2A regional championship hosted by De La Salle, second-seeded Marist rolled to an 8-1 win over seventh-seeded Marian Catholic.
It’s the first regional title since 2018 for the RedHawks (14-9-1), who will take on third-seeded St. Laurence in a Kankakee Sectional semifinal at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
“It’s our first regional title in three years, so it’s nice to bring one back and get a chance to play in a sectional again,” Marist coach Chris Roe said.
Junior midfielder Gina Czochara scored twice in the first 13 minutes to get the RedHawks rolling early.
Czochara completed her hat trick late in the first half and added a fourth goal in the second half. In the process, she tied the school record — set last season by CeCe Light — with 27 goals on the year.
“Gina tied the record so that was a big deal for her, and now she can not worry about that record and know if she scores one more, she will break it,” Roe said.
Paula Gutierrez scored twice for Marist, while Rylee Conway and Nikki Young added a goal apiece. Maddie Meehan had three assists.
Upset-minded Homewood-Flossmoor took Sandburg to overtime for the second time this season, but the Eagles prevailed 3-1 in the Class 3A Homewood-Flossmoor Regional championship game.
Freshmen Maeve Durkin and Gabby Dittmer and senior Karli Ferguson scored for Sandburg (13-8), which advanced to take on third-seeded Lincoln-Way East in a Class 3A Sandburg Sectional semifinal set for 7 p.m. Tuesday.
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