GIRLS SOCCER: Tenacious defense helps Beecher edge past Coal City
HERSCHER — An impressive defensive performance by Beecher paved the way to a 1-0 win against Coal City and a date with the Tigers in Friday’s Class 1A Herscher Regional championship game.
The Bobcats established themselves early when freshman Aniya Killis found herself open at the top of the box and sent a strike past Coalers keeper Brittny White to take a permanent 1-0 lead.
Drawing first blood is always a good way to secure an advantage, but it proved especially true for Beecher in a postseason matchup between two defense-minded squads.
“We dropped an early game against Coal City 2-0, but I felt like we were in that game the whole time, and I knew we would have a chance against them today,” Beecher coach Dawn Compton said. “In the back of my mind, I came in thinking that whoever scored first would probably win this game, and it was huge that Aniya stepped up. We found her at the top of the box, and she’s not shy about pulling the trigger up there.
“She hit a beautiful shot, which we needed because their keeper is tough. If you score a goal on her, you scored a good goal.”
White was as tough as advertised in her final high school game in net for the Coalers, but the Bobcats’ defense was good enough to deny her any offensive support. The senior keeper consistently rebuffed the Bobcats’ strikers, even as their momentum ramped up during the second half.
White’s importance was most evident during a stretch with about 30 minutes left in regulation, during which she denied four consecutive corner kicks with the wind in her face to keep the Coalers within one.
But Killis’ goal proved to be enough to carry Beecher to the regional title game thanks to standout performances from Yadi Barraza, Solange Regalado and Kate Bireline — particularly in 50-50 situations at and around midfield. The ’Cats did an excellent job of seizing possession in transitional situations and keeping the Coalers’ most dangerous attackers on the defensive.
“I think we did a good job of winning the ball — especially in the second half,” Compton said. “If I had to say one thing about our team all year it would be that our defense has been consistently solid.
“We don’t give up many goals, but we had been struggling on the offensive end,” she added. “Now, that’s starting to come around, too, which has been fun to watch for the last couple of weeks.”
Beecher will square off with the regional’s host at 4:30 Friday for the IHSA Class 1A Herscher Regional championship.
The Coalers’ season ends with an 8-6-2 overall record.