The Morton girls soccer team stayed alive in the IHSA Class 2A East Peoria Sectional, defeating Champaign Centennial 2-0 on a warm Wednesday afternoon to advance to the sectional championship game.
Senior Sami Hall made the most of her opportunities, scoring both goals for the Lady Potters in the first half — one goal in the first minute of the game.
“She’s a special player,” Morton head coach Tory DeLong said. “I would imagine if I was going up against Sami, I would absolutely hate her because she’s just a machine. She keeps on going. (She) motors through you. If you’re not strong on her, she’s going to knock you down. It’s not that she’s fouling, she’s just a physical, strong, fast player.”
Centennial (19-5) came into the game without allowing a goal in postseason play, but that ended quickly.
“They’re a good, quality team,” DeLong said. “They played so hard that obviously scoring within the first 15 seconds is huge. We’ve done that in a game earlier this year and allowed the team to come back. It just feels good to get a shutout and then a good win”
The Potters (10-7-5) have won eight out of their last 11 games.
Centennial came close to scoring in the first half when Casey Lavin netted one in the 32nd minute, but an offsides call negated the goal.
With the win, the Potters will play for a sectional championship for the first time since the 2013 season, when Morton advanced to the Elite 8.
“It feels fantastic,” DeLong said. “I haven’t actually asked the girls, but I thought about asking them, ‘Which feels better — a share of the conference championship (last season), (or) this year we get a regional championship?’ For me the regional championship feels better. We haven’t done it in a couple years, so it feels good.”
Morton will play Normal West, who beat Mahomet-Seymour 4-0 following the Potters win, at EastSide Centre at 5:30 p.m. Friday.
The Wildcats beat the Potters 3-1 on May 7, on a day the Wildcats scored all three goals in a span of seven minutes.
“We played very well against them,” DeLong said. “We’re going to have to play better Friday night than we did today, because they’re going to be quality.”
Morton has thrived off getting ahead early, then defending well the rest of the game and avoiding shootouts. DeLong said that would be key moving forward in postseason.
“It’s just going to be a great game. They’re young, talented,” DeLong said. “I’m going to ride our seniors to some degree. I know I got seniors who don’t want to end on a losing note in a sectional championship.”