GIRLS SOCCER: Slow offensive day ends Bradley-Bourbonnais’ season in a shutout
JOLIET — Everyone and every team will have one of those days when they just can’t seem to find that normal rhythm. It might be something you’ve done hundreds of times, but for some inexplicable reason, things refuse to fall into place.
Unfortunately for Bradley-Bourbonnais, Tuesday’s Class 3A Moline Sectional semifinal matchup was such an occasion, leading to a season-ending, 1-0 loss to Minooka at Joliet West High School.
“I knew coming into today’s game what was at stake — we knew we had to play faster, and we couldn’t play how we normally play,” Boilers coach Rohan Robinson said. “This isn’t a regional; this isn’t playing for conference; there are only 32 teams left.
“We needed to bring our A-game, but we only had our B-game — maybe B-plus.”
As the No.-2 seed in their sectional bracket, the Boilers entered the match as a reasonable favorite to advance to the Sweet 16 against Minooka’s sixth-seeded squad, and their play on the defensive side of the ball normally would have been strong enough to facilitate a win.
They surrendered an early goal on a quick lob over the top from Brooke Brodzinski and past keeper Kaitlyn Randle but made next to no mistakes while on the defense from that point on.
“We let one get away, a flick over the top,” Robinson said. “It’s unfortunate that that’s how they scored, and we didn’t give them any other chances.
“On the one chance they got, they took care of it, and here we are going home and they move on.”
While the Boilers tightened up defensively, they simply never managed to get anything going offensively. Their defensive performance was made even more impressive by the fact Minooka controlled the possession game for the vast majority of the opening 60 minutes.
“We played a little bit slower than we wanted to,” Robinson said. “There were times where the gaps were open, and all we had to do was put the ball between those spaces, but by the time we really picked our heads up, those gaps were closed.”
The opposing back line was able to consistently thwart any and all of the Boilers’ attempts to establish momentum, which earned Minooka a shot at a sectional title in Friday’s championship match.
Though the loss ends the Boilers’ season earlier than they envisioned, their 2019 campaign featured plenty of success. They secured a regional championship plaque and brought home a conference title with a dramatic double-overtime upset of Andrew on May 2 on the road in Tinley Park.
With just one senior starter this year, their season leaves plenty to be optimistic about moving forward, as all but five members of the 23-person roster should return next spring.
“We grew in such magnitude, and taking our team to win the conference was one of the toughest things we’ve ever done,” Robinson said. “Andrew, who returned the majority of their players from last year after they finished fourth in the state, came to our place, and we ended up beating them 1-0 and shocked our conference.
“All of a sudden, people were saying ‘Bradley’s doing something down there.’ That gave us some momentum; the girls started believing in themselves and realized we could do this,” he added. “It gives us a lot to look back on and reflect on from this season. We accomplished a lot, and where we go from here, we’ll find out next season. We’re looking forward to it.”